The Ten-Year-Old Presents: The Best Books of Her Fourth Grade Year

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka

What the book’s about: Newly minted fifth-grader Michael K. has made a strange crop of friends. Bob and Jennifer speak almost entirely in advertising slogans. To make matters worse, they tell Michael that their mission in life is to convert exactly 3,140,001 kids to BE SPHDZ. If they don’t, Earth itself will be taken offline, taking all of our tasty TV and radio waves with it. What’s a kid to do?

Why The Ten-Year-Old picked it: “It’s really hilarious. There’s this kid who’s trying to deal with an alien invasion led by a hamster. They think he speaks hamsterese. The aliens are really confused and believe everything they see on ads. They can hoot like the Nickelodeon audience, say ‘I’m lovin’ it’ like McDonald’s, and imitate a pro wrestler.”

Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan

What the book’s about: Marley, a rambunctious little fluff of a Labrador retriever, is nearly as curious as a cat. His nose leads him into so much trouble he gets kicked out of obedience school. He eats too fast, chews too much, and howls during thunderstorms. Marley never really does learn how to behave properly, but his family loves him nonetheless.

This book is a trimmed down version of John Grogan’s Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog. It leaves out much of the detail about the family’s own life and focuses on Marley’s kid-friendly antics.

Why The Ten-Year-Old picked it: “It’s not like Spaceheadz. It’s non-fiction. But it kept my interest and I read it three times back-to-back. I liked that this dog survived several experiences that should have made him die, but he was still curious and inquisitive and tried to do everything. So now I want to be curious and inquisitive and try to do everything too. Also, the dog’s really cute. Did you know they made a movie about Marley, Mommyo?”

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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