The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso

Spelling Trouble

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde, Book 1: Spelling Trouble is about a girl named Salem and a cat named Whammy.  Salem is a young witch who mixes up almost all of the spells she tries to cast.  Her family decides to assign her a companion animal to help teach her how to use her powers.  Whammy the cat is the one enlisted to fill that role.  He also tries to help Salem win a spelling bee that she will be taking part in at school.  Though there is some friction between them, they eventually become friends.  This is the first book in the series.

This book is best for older school-aged kids to preteens.  Bubba likes this book because it’s funny.

Possible Objections:

  1. Salem is a witch and uses magical powers.  If you don’t want your child reading about that type of thing, then steer clear of this book series.
  2. There’s a bit of rude behavior and talk amongst some of the characters.



Bubba & Lori


Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Blue Dolphins

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Island of the Blue Dolphins is a book for younger readers that’s loosely based on a true story.  Karana lives on an island in a small community of native people.  When the Aleuts show up to hunt otter, there is conflict and many in her tribe are killed.  Not too long after, another ship arrives to take the remainder of her tribe to the mainland to start a new life there.  Karana’s brother gets left behind when he goes back for something he forgot, and she jumps from the ship into the sea to swim back to the island.  Because of bad weather, the ship has to leave without them, so she and her brother are forced to fend for themselves on the island.  After only a short time her brother dies and she is left all alone.  The rest of the book chronicles the many tasks she has to do to survive, such as harvesting abalones and building a shelter.  Karana also makes friends with one of the wild dogs who has been injured, and some other creatures.  In the end she is rescued, but not until after eighteen years of seclusion.

I read this book as a child and loved it, so I decided to read it aloud to my boys.  It’s a great story of adventure and survival.  It also draws in themes of resourcefulness, companionship, loneliness, and the need for others.  This story is full of sweetness and sadness, which meld into a perfect blend.  I would highly recommend this book, especially for later elementary-aged kids to teens.

Possible Objections:

  1. There is a little bit of violence, such as when Karana’s brother is killed by the wild dogs.  Other than that, it’s fairly tame.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…