100 Chapter Books Project: The Giver


I have to admit that I didn’t have plans to ever read Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993). Even its place near the top of the Top 100 Chapter Books list (fourth!) didn’t give me any confidence that it would be a book I would enjoy. I’m not a fan of dystopias, especially those where the protagonists are children. I also am not a fan of this cover. (This could be why I ended up choosing to get the audiobook version.) However, the fact that I spent the last week making excuses to find time to listen (I did extra weeding in the yard!) will clue you in to how my feelings about this book have changed.

What it’s about: Jonas lives in a highly controlled community where families are assigned (two parents, two children — one boy, one girl), life is about rules, and free will is unknown. Jonas is turning twelve and is about to be assigned his adult job based on his personality and skills. To everyone’s surprise, rather than a standard job, he is told he will be the new Receiver. To have this job means to be set apart from everyone else, doing a job that not many understand, a job that will change his view of the entire community and its way of life.

Age level: Grades 6-8

Best part: The community seems rigid and boring at the start but the true horror of it is only slowly revealed, leaving the reader to find everything out at the same time as Jonas. It’s a very effective way of telling this story.

Worst part: The vague ending. I’m not the only one to think this either. Apparently, readers bugged Lowry for years, asking what really happened at the end. It prompted her to write three other books set in the world of The Giver, though apparently the fate of Jonas is revealed with just a brief mention.

Verdict: Buy (Borrow)

I decided to give this a weird verdict because I wanted it to count among the best books I’ve read during this project but I’m not sure that it would be one to have on a home bookshelf. I can’t imagine ever wanting to reread it. But I think it should be in every library and on lots of reading lists. It’s a thought-provoking, life-changing story.

Have you read The Giver?

The next book I’m reading is The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright. This is the second book on the list about The Melendy family (the first was The Saturdays which I liked but didn’t love). I have a feeling I’ll feel the same about this one.

Schedule – June through August
June 15 – #80 The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright (1942)
June 30 – #70 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (1994)
July 15 – #7 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967)
July 31 – #65 Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)
August 15 – #43 Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1980)
August 31 – #77 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (1959)

The Estella Project, Season 3!


It’s time! It’s time! Time for what? Season 3 of The Estella Project! #EstellaProject3

We’ve hosted The Estella Project Seasons 1 and 2 the last couple of summers! We’re back and we’re asking followers to submit the book, THE ONE BOOK, that they would put into everyone’s hands if given the chance. Then we challenge you to pick three (or even just one or two if you want) from the list to read and report back on (we’ll provide the linky) before summer is up.

In the form below, submit your BESTEST BOOK for consideration. We don’t care of there are duplicates from last year. That ONE BOOK may still BE YOUR ONE BOOK. And maybe we didn’t read it last year.

The Timeline

The list of Bestest Books will be posted on June 1, the day we plan to start reading and will run through September 7 (which coincides with another REALLY COOL thing we’ll announce soon!), the deadline to link up and share you reading with your Estella Project pals. We hope to have a couple of Twitter chats and who knows what other kind of fun. We hope you will join in!

100 Chapter Books Project: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland


One of the oldest (1865) but absolutely best books on the Top 100 Chapter Books list is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. It’s only #31 on the list but, based on its influence on children’s literature (and film) and the multitude of new book versions constantly coming out, I’m sure it really should be in the top ten.

What it’s about: Nonsense.

Age level: Grades 3-∞

Best part: The tea party. And the fact that it’s still quite readable after 150 years.

Worst part: The whole duchess/cook/baby-pig chapter. And the “it was all a dream” crap. Wonderland is real and everyone knows it.

Verdict: Buy

The wonderful thing about this book is that there are constantly new versions being put out, both with new, modern illustrations and also with faithful reproductions of the old ones, so that every reader should be able to find a copy that is visually interesting to them. I own at least three versions and have my eye on a couple more because I love almost all of the covers and artwork that this story inspires. But the best thing is that the words never need change because they are perfect as is. There are a few random British history sentences that modern global kids might not understand but the rest is the perfect type of fancy that never goes out of style.

My next read is The Giver which I have always avoided based on the bleak cover (and the fact that it came out the year after I graduated high school so I wasn’t really picking up chapter books at that time). I’m in the middle of listening to it on audio and I am surprisingly LOVING it. I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Schedule – May through August
May 31 – #4 The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)
June 15 – #80 The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright (1942)
June 30 – #70 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (1994)
July 15 – #7 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (1967)
July 31 – #65 Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)
August 15 – #43 Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1980)