Early Chapter Book: Magical Monty by Johanna Hurwitz

by Johanna Hurwitz, illustrated by Anik McGrory
Candlewick Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5008-7
Grades 1-3
Reviewed from copy provided by publisher through NetGalley.

Monty tries to master a magic kit - and finds some real-life situations tricky - in this spot-on story about an endearing, utterly relatable first-grader.

First grade is almost over, and Monty will soon be seven. He's now a big brother, too, which makes him feel very grown-up. But when he tries to use the magic set his grandmother gave him, he has a little trouble. Maybe the card trick would work if he were eight years old? Mother's Day is coming, and Monty wishes he had something better to give his mom than the picture frame he made out of ice-cream sticks at school. But how is he supposed to guess from the TV call-in ad how much flowers cost, or that you need a special card to get them? Whether involving his baby sister in his library project, losing a sneaker while marching with his karate class in the parade, or learning that an exciting afternoon isn't always a good thing, Monty's familiar adventures embody the gentle humor of everyday life.

Authors who write early chapter books have my undying admiration.  It takes special skills to write an interesting story using a small number of words.  And yet despite their importance, early chapter books don't receive as much recognition as does middle grade or YA.  Here is an example of a great early chapter book series, perfect for reading aloud or for young readers to read themselves, especially for advanced younger readers.

Monty is a very appealing young character.  He's learned a lot through out his first grade year, but as he nears the end he finds that there is still much to learn, whether adapting to his new sister or figuring out how to perform the magic tricks from the kit his grandmother gave him.  Monty is a good kid, who enjoys his new sister.  But Monty does face problems, like what to write during silent writing time or how to figure out his new magic tricks.  I like how straight forward and believable this story is, perfect as an introduction to contemporary fiction for younger readers. Basically this is a cute series about a cute young boy.

The other books in the series are:

Mostly Monty (#1)

Mighty Monty (#2)
Amazing Monty (#3)


  1. I agree that chapter books are tough to write well, which not a lot of people know! If you liked this one, try the MG book: "Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms," by Lissa Evans.


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