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Fort Builders Inc. #1

The Birthday Castle

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A group of friends use teamwork, creativity, and construction know-how to start their own fort building company!

Caleb could really use a bit more spending money—he needs to buy the next book in his favorite series so he can see what happens! But what can he do to raise funds once his allowance runs out? Caleb puts his head together with his best friend, Jax, and a couple other kids in their neighborhood, and come up with a brilliant idea. They’re going to start their own fort-building business! Good forts are always in demand, and who better to design and construct them than kids? But when Fort Builders, Inc., gets their first gig, the group has trouble agreeing on the right way to go about it. Can they learn to work together in time to build an incredible fort, or will their business be over before it even begins?

96 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2020

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About the author

Dee Romito

12 books244 followers
Dee Romito’s middle grade novels, THE BFF BUCKET LIST, NO PLACE LIKE HOME, BEST. NIGHT. EVER. and POSTCARDS FROM VENICE, are available from Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, along with her debut picture book PIES FROM NOWHERE, from Little Bee Books. Watch for the FORT BUILDERS, INC. early chapter book series coming in 2020!

When she's not writing, you’re likely to find her on adventures with her husband and two energetic kids, at the local ice cream shop, or curled up in a comfy chair with her cats. She loves to read, travel, and giggle like a teenager with her friends.

Dee blogs at http://writeforapples.com and you can visit her website at http://DeeRomito.com.

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5 stars
33 (36%)
4 stars
35 (38%)
3 stars
18 (19%)
2 stars
4 (4%)
1 star
1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews
Profile Image for Sara Magnafichi.
191 reviews6 followers
October 3, 2020
Thank you to the author, Dee Romito, for providing an advanced copy of this story to #collabookation. Publish date May 2020. This is a great early reader with themes of friendship, STEM, creativity, and young entrepreneurship. Caleb and Jax are excited to start their new business building forts for others. What they don't realize is that they need to design plan for their forts prior to building them so they know what materials they need, the cost, and can get approval from their customers prior to building. That's where Kiara gets involved. Their team of 2 ends up becoming a team of 4: Jax, Caleb, Eddie, and Kiara. Together, they become Fort Builder's, Inc. They troubleshoot everything that they are faced with when their first customer, Analise, comes along and requests a pink castle for a fort. Will they be able to successfully build such a detailed fort in the short amount of time they have before Analise's birthday? I cannot wait to share this story with my first graders once this book makes it through #collabookation. I have many students that will LOVE it, and book 2 in the series coming later in the year.
7,143 reviews26 followers
August 9, 2020
Well done beginning chapter book. The text is easy to follow and the story is relatable.
The team of four friends starts a business building cardboard forts. Their first one is almost a disaster as they learn about business and working together. As they move through the process, they add people to their team until the four learn how to design and build what the client wants.
The pink birthday castle is everything their customer wants and their business is launched.
Vocabulary list included at the end of the book.
Looking forward to more in this series.
Profile Image for Brittany.
1,244 reviews128 followers
August 5, 2021
Not good at all. Flat characters, bland storytelling, questionable messaging, and no humor or spark whatsoever. It was about as engaging as reading a story problem.
Profile Image for amanda.
20 reviews
October 7, 2020
Hell nah!

I am so glad I pre-read books before I give them to my kids. This is the most problematic children’s book I’ve seen in a while. On top of that, it’s boring! All of the whimsical magic of fort-building is completely gone, replaced by STEM buzzwords and a story that lacks any heart or authenticity.

Now, on to the problematic pieces... Whew, where to begin. The main character (white boy) comes up with an idea to monetize a fun childhood activity by creating a fort-building business, and gets his best friend (another white boy) to go in on it with him. They also recruit a Black boy and Indian girl to help them, with the promise that everyone will split the profits and be treated equal partners. “Oooh, a co-op!” I thought. Alas, no.

Even though the Black boy & Brown girl are the most skilled members of the team, and the best friend does the hard building work, the MC gets all the credit and makes all the decisions. Turns out this white boy is “really good at managing the team” (this a direct quote, y’all!) So while the other three do most of the labor of actually assembling the fort, (after the Brown girl has drawn up all of the plans AND provided all of the materials) this kid is just giving orders and measuring tape.

The worst part? At the end of the book, when they finally get paid for building this birthday castle, the rest of the kids give the MC all of their money because “this all started because of you.” And instead of insisting that they divide the profits evenly as they had agreed, because he could not have done it without them and they should get paid for their work, the MC says gee thanks and pockets all the cash!

What in the Betsy DeVos MLM-based curriculum kind of business model is this nonsense? Would give zero stars if I could.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,337 reviews7 followers
July 20, 2021
Not a big fan of this one.
It was a quick read, and there are a few questions and a STEM activity at the end.

A kid needs money to buy a book and decides to start a fort building business. He recruits three other kids, promising that they will all split the profits. They run into a number of problems, from lack of materials to a demanding client to misbehaving weather, but persevere.

Profile Image for Nurul.
152 reviews
August 4, 2021
Summary from the book:
Caleb and his best friend, Jax, are excited to start their own business. Their first order is a big one: a pink birthday castle with a drawbridge! But when things don't go as planned, will they finish the fort in time for their friend Analise's big birthday bash?

My take:
As the book promised, this is really a Fast.Fun.Reads from Aladdin Quix. It's interesting to read how Caleb and Jax grew their 'company' from a 2 person team to a 4 person team with:
- Eddie as putting the boxes together
- Jax with helping to stack them up
- Kiara being the one to attach everything together
- Caleb overseeing the measurement (since he's good at this) and also managing the team.

Of course something had to happen just as they finished the build
64 reviews
May 11, 2021
I loved the messages: if you want something do something about it, resilience, real teamwork (where everyone on the team is necessary), entrepreneurship, kindness. I like that there’s subtle feminism (girls designing and building and it’s totally normal) as opposed to in-your-face feminism (for example, guy says building is not for girls and girl proves him wrong). So many books for this age are about how boring school is, or about obnoxious or bullying characters, etc. So glad to have a feel-good wholesome book with a great story! (Postscript: I didn’t like the second book in the series, so I recommend this only as a stand-alone book.)
Profile Image for Steph.
4,483 reviews48 followers
September 19, 2020
One hundred percent adorable. Totally accessible for second and third graders, with a storyline that focuses on teamwork, perseverance, keeping promises, contributing ones strengths, thinking outside the box, and working towards an end goal. I LOVE this book!

Can’t help but also adore that the reason the main character even wants to earn money is to be able to buy himself a new book.
Profile Image for Bonnie Grover.
787 reviews8 followers
March 26, 2020
I could think of so many ways to use this early chapter book in a primary classroom. I know teachers and students are going to enjoy reading this and perhaps students will build fort or start their own businesses.
Profile Image for Claudia Recinos.
Author 3 books24 followers
March 4, 2020
An engaging and enjoyable book with a great message for early readers. My 8yo liked reading it together and plans to re-read it again on his own.
21 reviews
August 10, 2021
My Favourite Part -
When the castle got all soggy and they remade it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Angela.
340 reviews7 followers
October 20, 2021
I like the concept of kids working together, using their skills, and starting a business. Difficult words are in bold with a corresponding word list in the back of the book. There are also instructions in the back for building a drawbridge. Six chapters and black and white pictures on about every third page. Pair with The Cardboard Kingdom.
Profile Image for Yvonne O'connor.
965 reviews5 followers
September 16, 2020
Great chapter layout and large print to get my five year olds interested in reading it on their own. A nice story about teamwork and persistence.
Profile Image for Becky.
622 reviews3 followers
April 7, 2021
A nice transitional chapter book with problem solving and STEAM creativity - but not too educational to ruin the fun.
Profile Image for KaitandMaddie.
2,440 reviews5 followers
July 6, 2021
We got through this in one evening and they were pretty engaged throughout. As the parent reader, it was a bit repetitive as each problem led to rebuilding.
Profile Image for Janet.
Author 7 books84 followers
July 1, 2020
What a fun story! The premise is so fun. I loved building forts as a kid, and I loved watching the Fort building team (Caleb, Jax, Eddie, and Kiara) Come together and discover what it takes to start a business. There is so much possibility for kids to learn from this series, and the idea of a fort building company is brilliant. It’s perfect for emerging readers!
118 reviews1 follower
March 19, 2020
Thank you author and publisher for sharing a copy with #Collabookation.

This is such a fun, short read that is perfect for early readers. It has castles, grit, perseverance, and lots of fun. I loved this cute story, and I cannot wait to read part 2 soon!
Profile Image for Sandi Van.
Author 6 books14 followers
February 18, 2020
A fun chapter book for early readers that would be a wonderful addition to a classroom or family library. Loved the way the characters learn teamwork and problem solving - can't wait for the rest of the series!!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,246 reviews
July 3, 2021
Lots to appreciate in this easy, quick-read chapter book. Liked the focus on teamwork and creativity, a bit of STEM, the ups and downs of trying to start your own business (especially the bits about needing to please your customers, making sure you have materials before you promise to make something, and working to a timeline, and overcoming setbacks). Each member of the team has something special to contribute to the project. So, the ending kind of flummoxed me... I don't know... I can't decide if it's just a lovely celebration of altruism and generosity (I think that's the point) or just kind of a confusing message to send kids about business and the importance of the founder vs. the people who actually make the ideas a reality. So, read some other reviews and see for yourself (the one star review here kind of speaks to my concern about the ending, though it appears most people loved the book.)
Displaying 1 - 22 of 22 reviews

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