It’s Monday and I’m happy to be participating in a weekly event with a community of bloggers who post reviews of books that they have read the previous week. Check out more IMWAYR posts here: Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers
This week, I am highlighting my favorite early readers and beginning chapter books from 2017. So many great books to read and share with your emerging and transitional readers! Many themes were featured this year, including strong, culturally diverse characters who face adversity, solve conflict and think outside the box to resolve problems. Each of these books would work well either as a read-aloud in a primary classroom or as an independent reader. (For each selection, I have included number of pages.)
Fergus and Zeke – Kate Messner (56 pages)
Meet two charming, mischievous mice: Fergus – a lovable classroom mouse who sneaks into a backpack to join a class trip and Zeke – his streetwise counterpart whom he meets and brings back to school with him. Short sentences, repetition, great sight words, four easy chapters, straightforward plot and colorful illustrations – this brand-new series is perfect for emerging readers!
Ballet Cat – What’s Your Favorite Favorite? – Bob Shae (56 pages)
A delightful celebration of family relationships is the theme in this humorous third book in the Ballet Cat series. Grandma ends up in quite a predicament when her two grandchildren – Cat and Goat – try to outdo each other when they put on a show for her. Cat thinks ballet is Grandma’s favorite; Goat is convinced she likes magic tricks best. A perfect early reader, the text is done entirely in large word bubbles, highlighted by Shea’s signature style illustrations and bright bold colors.
Super Narwhal and the Jelly Jolt – Ben Clanton (64 pages)
In this follow-up to the first A Narwhale and Jelly Book, Narwhal decides to become a superhero. He already has a name, an outfit, a secret identity, even a sidekick. But he still needs to find out which his superpower is… Cute, funny and very heartwarming. Comic style illustrations.
The Good For Nothing Button – Charise Mericle Harper (64 pages)
Yellow Bird has a button. It does . . . nothing! It is a good for nothing button. Red Bird and Blue Bird are excited to try the button. But when they press it, they discover that the button makes them happy. Happy is something! A flabbergasted Yellow Bird insists the button does nothing. But it sure does seem to be making him mad. Mad is something! A great read-aloud and high on the giggle scale!
Princess Cora and the Crocodile – Laura Amy Schlitz (80 pages)
When an over-scheduled princess, tired of no time to play and discover, asks her fairy godmother for a dog she is surprised when a crocodile is sent by mistake. But the hilarious plan that follows involves the croc swapping places with Cora – giving her some much needed freedom. With a mop wig and frilly dress, the “princess” croc insults the Queen (“Reptile!” “Mammal!”) and gnaws on the fitness-obsessed King (just a little). Charming and so much fun to read. (and I “inferred” a little lesson for helicopter parents!)
Bruno: Some of the More Interesting Days in My Life So Far – Catharina Valckx (96 pages) Six linked quirky stories are full of friendship, silliness, and the little moments that make life memorable and unpredictable. Bruno, a small cat in a blue checked cap, recounts in turn the peculiar and often extremely silly goings-on of his life. I loved that Bruno takes such delight in embracing any experience that come his way.
Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows – Asia Citro (96 pages)
What should you feed a baby dragon? Zoey and her cat Sassafras use the scientific method and science journals to find out! I LOVE this first book in a series that celebrates science and features a smart, strong, tenacious female character. Also love the message that you need to work through mistakes and re-think your plan before you can succeed! Cute illustrations, short chapters and a sprinkle of magic thrown in! I can’t wait for more books in this series!
Yours Sincerely, Giraffe – Megumi Iwasa (104 pages)
Sweet, quirky little book about a lonely giraffe and a lonely penguin who become pen pals. A great early chapter book, first published in Japan, that touches on loneliness, friendship, letter-writing and understanding differences. Love the playful line drawings which break the text into manageable chunks.
Heroes in Training – Hermes and the Horse with Wings – Tracey West (112 pages)
Not sure how I missed this series – but this is book #13! Each book in the series features one of the Greek Gods as a child. Ten chapters, simple text and single page black and white illustrations. A perfect series for any young readers interested in Greek Gods and the exciting world of Greek mythology.
Ivy – Katherine Coville (144 pages)
This short, delightful fantasy includes pixies, a sick dragon, a three legged griffin, and some nasty trolls! Ivy and her Grandmother, whom villagers call “Meg the Healer”, can relate to all the animals that live in and around the village of Broomsweep. Her grandmother can heal all the animals, including the magical ones. Enchanting and heartwarming!
Jasmine Toguchi – Mochi Queen – Debbi Michiko Florence (160 pages)
So much to love about a headstrong eight-year-old named Jasmine Toguchi and her Japanese-American family. In this first book, Jasmine longs to be part of a cultural family tradition of making Japanese mochi – a small, round dessert ball made with soft, pounded sticky rice. But she is told she is too young to help. I loved Jasmine’s determination, the details about mochi, and the family’s traditions. Great for making connections! A mochi recipe is included at the end of the book. Looking forward to more from this series.
Beatrice Zinker – Upside Down Thinker – Shelley Johannes (164 pages)
I so enjoyed getting to know Beatrice Zinker. She’s got the right combination of quirky and spunk, as well as her share of bad luck (think Ramona Quimby). She thinks outside the box and upside-down! Fast paced and delightful with lots of quirky illustrations (reminded me a little of Dory Fantasmagory). Themes of individuality, optimism, and the shifting shapes of friendships. Can’t wait for more Beatrice!
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers – John Dougherty (192 pages)
With an undertone of Monty Python, mixed with Captain Underpants, Geronimo Stilton, an abundance of hilarious slapstick silliness, and plenty of tremendous wordplay – I LOVED this goofy LOL British adventure! I especially loved that the cast of characters are aware that they are in a story, and occasionally comment on it: when the king realizes they are in a story he immediately goes and puts on his clothes. HILARIOUS!
A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold (208 pages)
Bixby Alexander Tam, or Bat, is great at Math and knows more about animals than anyone in his class, but he is not great at making friends. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home a baby skunk, Bat becomes the best skunk care-taker ever, all while trying to navigate his world. A charming story perfect for students transitioning from early readers to chapter books. I like that this book has a character most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that. Also touches on divorce and single parents. The story focuses more on Bat’s love of animals and how this empathy for animals helps him connect to his classmates. Tender, heartwarming and funny with an amazing character you and your students will fall in love with. Major warm fuzziness!
Thanks for stopping by!
What are some of your favorite beginning chapter books from the past year?