I recommend FM Charles Hertan’s Power Chess for Kids: Learn How to Think Ahead and Become One of the Best Players in Your School (New in Chess, 2011). The organization of the book is stellar, the layout is cheerful (with cartoon-style characters), and the material is important for chess improvement.

The book is geared toward children that already play chess. In my opinion, readers should wait to purchase this book until they have a USCF rating of 600 or higher. Buying it earlier would lead to frustration, as the book teaches its readers to see 1.5 moves ahead. That is, one side moves (a “power” move such as a capture or a check), the other side recaptures (or moves), and then the first side wins material or checkmates. So if one cannot already see a half move or one move ahead, 1.5 moves ahead will probably be too challenging. After an overview of the values of the chessmen and how to count attackers and defenders, the book covers forks, pins, skewers, and interference moves. A second volume is planned to cover other tactics, such as deflections and overworked pieces. For that second volume, I would like to see the following changes: 1)   Notation around the outside borders of the diagrams. Since the answers are given in notation, why not help readers by showing notation on the diagrams? 2)    Avoid violent terms. In a children’s book, I think the following phrases are out of place: “kills it next move” (p. 86), “committing harakiri” (p. 111, harakiri was in italics in the original), and “bash some opponents” (p. 150) 3)   Explain that “1.5 moves ahead” is the same as “2 moves ahead” in most other chess books.

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