Showing posts with label chapter books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chapter books. Show all posts

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ten funny books to get you laughing (ages 4-13)

We all like doing the things we have fun with. Psychoanalysts might call this the "Pleasure Principle," but I call it common sense. So how do we help our kids discover the fun in reading? Here are ten books that tickle my funny bone, especially when reading them aloud with kids.

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look: Asian-American second grader Alvin Ho is afraid of everything: elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all, school. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’s there, he never, ever, says a word. This first book in the series is full of everyday adventures and misadventures -- from trying to get chicken pox, to hanging from a tree branch in a desperate attempt to grow taller. A great read aloud. (ages 6-10)

Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey: Mr Wolf decides that he's fed up with always being the "bad guy," so he persuades Mr. Shark, Mr. Piranha & Mr. Snake that they need to do nice things for a change. The want-to-be good guys try hard to shed their carnivorous ways, rescuing a stranded kitty who's terrified of their point teeth. Kids are loving the hilarious antics, exaggerated illustrations and slapstick humor in this chapter book. (ages 6-10)

Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey: Kids can't get enough of George and Harold, and their superhero creation Dog Man. Originally of Captain Underpants fame, George & Harold show how Dog Man, with the head of a dog on the body of a police officer, battles crime and saves the day. Kids love the silliness, the explosions and fight scenes, and the encouragement to create their own outlandish stories. (ages 6-10)


Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon: Dory (called Rascal by her family) wants to play with her big brother and sister, but they complain that she's a pest. They try to scare her with a story about the witch Mrs. Gobble Gracker. Dory creates outlandish tales with her imaginary friend, tricks Mrs. Gobble Gracker and wins over her siblings. Families will recognize themselves in Dory's attention-getting strategies, her mom's exasperation or her siblings' bickering. A joyful, funny celebration of imagination and resilience. (ages 6-10)

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems, by Gail Carson Levine: Using William Carlos Williams's poem "This Is Just to Say" as her starting point, Levine spins a series of playful un-sorry poems. She uses famous characters like Snow White, Humpty Dumpty, the Little Engine that Could and Barbie to twist expectations and create laughs. "I, Rapunzel,/ and not the witch/ have lopped off/ my braid/ which/ you daily/ climbed/ to me/ Forgive me/ you're not worth/ the pain/ in my scalp." Subversively hilarious. Kids will love sharing this with friends, laughing together. (ages 8-12) 

Funny Girl, edited by Betsy Bird: As television comedy writers Delaney and Mackenzie Yeager explain in their opening entry, "Joke-telling is the greatest superpower a gall can posses." Being a comedian takes confidence--a combination of audacity and courage to put yourself out there. This collection of short personal essays, short stories and comics is terrific. In "One Hot Mess," Carmen Agra Deedy shares about the time her mother set a bathtub on fire to get rid of the germs, unwittingly melting the fiberglass tub in their new apartment. With this great range of stories, you're bound to find new authors you'd like to explore. (ages 9-13) 

Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein: One of my all-time favorite read alouds, a little red chicken keeps interrupting his papa's stories at bedtime, trying to save the day. When Papa starts reading Hansel and Gretel, little red chicken interrupts just as they are about to enter the witch’s house. Papa tries again with Little Red Riding Hood with exactly the same result. The interruptions bring laughter, and children love the repetition. Stein excels in comedic timing. A true crowd-pleaser. (ages 4-8)

Judy Moody, by Megan McDonald: Judy Moody is a favorite series because kids can relate to her struggles and her moods. Whether it's having a toad pee in her hand or losing her lucky penny,  Judy is always getting in a bad mood, at least for a while. Even better, each story ends with a satisfying climax. Judy realizes the power of friendships and keeps herself from throwing a tantrum. She rescues her homework, quite resourcefully, and even forgives her brother. (ages 7-10)

A Tale Dark and Grimm, by Adam Gidwitz: With dark humor, Gidwitz weaves together different Grimms' tales to create an original story starring Hansel and Gretel. I especially love the author's interruptions, where he pauses to talk directly to the reader. “This is when things start to get, well . . . awesome. But in a horrible, bloody kind of way." A terrific read aloud that will have readers alternating between laughter and suspense. (ages 9-13)

The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett and Jory John: Miles Murphy is known as the best prankster in his school, but now his family is moving and he dreads building his reputation in a new town. When he gets to school on the first day and sees the principal's car has been parked at top of the steps, blocking the school doors, Miles knows that there's already a prankster at this school. Can Miles out-prank this whoever is doing this...or maybe they can join forces. Written by a comedic duo, this series excels in deadpan humor in a school setting. (ages 8-12)

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Friday, December 14, 2018

Ten terrific chapter books for growing readers (ages 6-9)

Chapter books play an important role in children’s reading -- helping them transition from decoding individual words to reading for the joy of a story that builds in their minds over several days. Enjoy and share!

Bad Kitty, by Nick Bruel: This hilarious series will hook kids with its goofy humor and exaggerated illustrations. Bruel balances simple sentences with fast-paced stories in this series that make new readers laugh and beg for more. In Bad Kitty Gets a Bath, one of my family's favorites, Bruel explains exactly what you’ll need to do to get your favorite feline into the bath. (ages 6-10)

The Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey: Mr Wolf decides that he's fed up with always being the "bad guy," so he persuades his friends that they need to do nice things for a change. The want-to-be good guys try hard to shed their carnivorous ways, but when they rescue a stranded kitty she's terrified of their pointy teeth. Each mission brings hilarious antics--and a terrific underlying message challenging prejudice and refusing to let setbacks get you down. (ages 6-10)

Boris for the Win, by Andrew Joyner: Boris dreams of winning the big race at school. He practices and works hard, but when it comes down to the big day, he's faced with a dilemma: will he go for the gold, or help a friend in need? Kids will relate to Boris, the goofy little warthog who’s the star of this very easy beginning chapter book. (ages 5-8)

Critter Club, by Callie Barkley: In the series opener, Amy she spends her spring vacation helping at her mom’s veterinary clinic. When a local puppy goes missing, Amy tracks down the clues and saves the day. With the reward money, Amy and her friends start a local animal shelter. This series brings lots of smiles with four likable, diverse characters and plenty of cute animals. (ages 5-8)

Emma Is on the Air by Ida Siegal: Emma Perez dreams big and bold. She wants to be FAMOUS! When she sees an investigative reporter on the TV news, she knows that this is just the career for her. When Javier, finds a worm in his lunch at school the next day, it’s the perfect story for Emma to investigate. Emma is a likable character with an upbeat attitude. (ages 6-10)

Ivy & Bean, by Annie Barrows: Ivy and Bean is my absolute favorite series for 1st - 3rd graders. I love these two friends who are so goofy and full of mischief. Bean is sure that she will never be friends with Ivy, especially when her mother insists that Ivy is such a nice girl. “Nice, Bean knew, is another word for boring.” But when she finds out that Ivy is in training to become a witch and might have the perfect spell to cast on Bean’s bossy older sister, this unlikely duo become inseparable. (ages 6-10)

Mercy Watson, by Kate DiCamillo: Mercy Watson is not just a lovable pig, she’s the darling of Mr. and Mrs. Watson. They are sure she’ll get them out of trouble, but readers know that Mercy is really only thinking about hot buttered toast. Kids laugh at each one of the Mercy Watson books, full of crazy antics and lots of hot buttered toast. (ages 5-8)

The Notebook of Doom, by Troy Cummings: A 2nd grade student wrote to me, "This book was terrific!!!! It was really funny. The main character is Alexander. His dad thought the balloon goons were just balloons but they were evil and sucked all of the air. I think people that like funny books would like this book." Definite kid approval. (ages 6-10)

Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale: Who says princesses can’t wear black and fight the bad guys?! Princess Marigold is prim and proper as she has tea with Duchess Wigtower. As soon as the monster alarm sounds, the princess makes a quick costume change and heads out to save the day using special moves like the "Sparkle Slam" and the "Twinkle Twinkle Little Smash." Terrific fun! (ages 5-8)

Sofia Martinez, by Jacqueline Jules: Sofia does all sorts of things to get noticed--from wearing a huge hair bow to making her grandmother a piñata for her birthday. It isn’t easy being one of three sisters, especially when your mother can’t tell your pictures apart! Sofia’s happy, loving Latino family brings smiles, and many readers will relate to her stories. (ages 5-8)

Unicorn Rescue Society, by Adam Gidwitz: On his first day at a new school, Elliot and his new friend Uchenna discover a mythical creature that looks like a tiny blue dragon. When Professor Fauna, their eccentric science teacher, realizes this is the mythical Jersey Devil, he invites them to join the Unicorn Rescue Society. As the series unfolds, Elliot and Uchenna will rescue mythical animals from different cultures and places, bringing young readers traveling the globe with them. Emerson students are loving this new series, perfect for readers who are moving beyond Magic Treehouse but still want a story that moves quickly. (ages 7-10)

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Ivy & Bean One Big Happy Family, by Annie Barrows -- interview with Mia, age 8

I am so happy to share the newest installment of Ivy + Bean, one of my all-time favorite series of chapter books. I love these two friends; they are goofy, full of mischief, and remind me of all the things I almost did!

This series is perfect for readers new to chapter books. Pictures on every page help readers build a movie in their mind and keep the pacing going. Humor and friendship drama make these stories relatable and funny. The Ivy + Bean series fills a perfect spot in children's literature: between longer Early Readers like Mercy Watson and novels like Ramona the Pest.

Bay Area friends: You'll definitely want to see Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall on Saturday, September 8th at 10am at the Elmwood Theater in Berkeley, organized by Mrs. Dalloway's Books. Get your ticket here and save your spot!
Ivy + Bean One Big Happy Family
by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Chronicle, 2018
Amazon / Public library / Google Books preview
ages 6-9
*best new book*
When I showed the newest installment to one of my favorite readers, she was thrilled to revisit her favorite book friends. So instead of a review, I'd like to share my conversation with Mia, age 8.

Mary Ann: Hi Mia! Why were you excited to read the new Ivy & Bean?

Mia: I really like the series. I like that they're funny and silly. I also like that they're about real kids.

Mary Ann: Can you tell me a little bit about this new book?

Mia: Someone in their class says that only children are spoiled, and Ivy worries about this. So she tries to do lots of things to make sure she isn't spoiled. She gives away her clothes. Then she says they should get a new baby, so she won't be an only child. But the baby ends up crying and fussing so much! Then Ivy & Bean decide that they should actually be twin sisters, so that Ivy isn't an only child.

Mary Ann: Was there a part that made you laugh?

Mia: It was funny when Ivy & Bean tried to become twins and tied their wrists together so their skin would grow together. It was so funny because we knew it wouldn't work and they kept bonking their heads when they tried to get out of their playhouse.

Mary Ann: Were there any other parts you liked?

Mia: It was funny when Nancy was doing yoga and in downward dog. When Bean sees this, she tells Nancy that isn't what a dog looks like. Bean is really funny when she starts barking at Nancy and showing her what a dog does.

Mary Ann: Do you think you're more like Ivy or Bean?

Mia: I am really like both of them! I love reading like Ivy. I also like running around, screaming and being crazy like Bean.

Mary Ann: Thanks so much, Mia. I really appreciate your sharing your thoughts with readers!

Enjoy this book trailer for Ivy & Bean, featuring real kids and what they think about the series:


The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Chronicle. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

#SummerReading 2018 for 1st & 2nd graders

First and second graders have made monumental leaps in their reading this year. Keep those reading muscles strong by feeding them a steady diet of fun books to read!

Here are some of my favorite beginning readers, chapter books, graphic novels and picture books for kids just finishing 1st and 2nd grade. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
#SummerReading: 1st & 2nd grade
click for full 2018 summer reading lists
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

Beginning to Read (levels G-H-I)
Block Party, by Gwendolyn Hooks
It's Shoe Time!, by Bryan Collier
My Toothbrush Is Missing!, by Jan Thomas

Developing Readers (levels J-K)
Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy, by Laurel Snyder
Pedro's Big Goal, by Fran Manushkin
Zelda & Ivy, by Laura Kvasnosky

New Picture Books We're Loving
After the Fall, by Dan Santat
Harriet Gets Carried Away, by Jessie Sima
Mommy's Khimar, by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
No Kimchi For Me!, by Aram Kim

Beginning with Chapter Books (levels L-M)
Ashley Small & Ashlee Tall series, by Michele Jakubowski
Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon
Fergus & Zeke, by Kate Messner
King & Kayla series, by Dori Hillestad Butler

Graphic Novel Series We Love!
Dog Man, by Dav Pilkey
Hilo, by Judd Winick
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clayton

Having Fun with Chapter Book Series (levels N-O-P)
Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey
DATA Set series, by Ada Hopper
Zoey & Sassafras series, by Asia Citro

Fascinating Nonfiction
Give Bees a Chance, by Bethany Barton
Her Right Foot, by Dave Eggers
Malala's Magic Pencil, by Malala Yousafzai

Picture Books Full of Imagination
Little Red Writing, by Joan Holub
Maybe Something Beautiful, by F. Isabel Campoy
Take Away the A, by Michael Escoffier

CLICK HERE for all of the 2018 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Unicorn Rescue Society: Creature of the Pines, by Adam Gidwitz: a new fun, short, engaging mystery series (ages 7-10)

Unicorns are pretty awesome! So are Sasquatch, the Minotaur and all sorts of other mythical creatures--magical, powerful and hard to find. I know kids love reading fantasy series, yet when it comes to recommending books for developing readers there just aren't many fantastic fantasy series out there.

Adam Gidwitz's new series Unicorn Rescue Society is perfectly aimed at readers transitioning from short chapter books and moving up toward longer stories. Hand this to kids who have read all the Magic Tree House and Secrets of Droon books but aren't quite ready for Percy Jackson or Harry Potter.
Creature of the Pines, Unicorn Rescue Society #1
by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Dutton / Penguin, 2018
Amazon / your local library / preview chapters 1-3
ages 7-10
*best new book*
Elliot's first day at a new school turns out to be full of adventure. Chapter One opens as Elliot stares down the long aisle of the school bus. It's his first day of school, and his class is taking a field trip. Gidwitz brings the reader right into this uncomfortable situation, as Elliot struggles to make a new friend. While I totally relate to Elliot, I love Uchenna -- the Nigerian American girl who befriends Elliot. Uchenna looks "like the lead singer in a punk rock band." She's got style, confidence and a sense of adventure.

Before we even find out where Elliot and Uchenna's class is going on their field trip, we meet their teacher Miss Vole and their special guest, the intimidating and mysterious Professor Fauna. He informs the class that they will be going to the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, where many dangerous things haunt the forrest.
Professor Fauna, Elliot, Uchenna and Jersey
When they get to the Pine Barrens, Uchenna wanders off the path to investigate a noise she hears. Elliot follows, and they discover a blue-furred magical creature that looks like “a tiny dragon.” This creature, the mythical Jersey Devil, takes an immediate liking to the pair, following them back to the school bus. A hide-and-seek chase ensues as Elliot and Uchenna try to protect the Jersey Devil.

The book closes as Professor Fauna invites Uchenna and Elliot to join his secret organization that is committed to protecting mythical creatures. You'll have fun showing this video to kids, as Elliot and Uchenna explain what the Unicorn Rescue Society does.

Gidwitz has hit a great balance between short, engaging chapters and a mystery that makes you want to learn more. Hatem Aly's illustrations keep readers grounded, helping them create the movie in their heads. The fantasy and humor elements are engaging, but never overwhelm the straight-forward storyline. Hand this new series to 2nd & 3rd graders who have moved beyond Magic Treehouse, but still want a story that moves quickly.

I'm particularly excited to see how this series unfolds. Elliot and Uchenna will rescue mythical animals from different cultures and places, bringing young readers traveling the globe with them. Gidwitz is partnering with authors from different cultures, so that they bring their experiences and cultural knowledge to the series. Gidwitz describes upcoming installments in his Nerdy Book Club post:
"Joseph Bruchac and I are writing about the Native American legend of Sasquatch. Emma Otheguy and I will travel to Cuba to rescue the madre de aguas. David Bowles and I will scour both banks of the Rio Grande to find, and protect, the chupacabras. And Hena Khan and I will write about the mythical creatures of Pakistan. These are the first members of The Unicorn Rescue Society."
I love how intentionally inclusive Adam Gidwitz is with his storytelling. When I was at the launch for this book at the Brooklyn Public Library, a young Black girl asked Adam where he got the inspiration for creating the character of Uchenna. He explained that Uchenna and Eliot are based on students from his teaching days in Brooklyn. Uchenna was one of his students, and is now in college (I think). This representation matters to young people.

It's no secret that I have loved Adam's writing since I first read A Tale Dark & Grimm, and my book club Skyped with him. Those kids are now in high school, and they still talk about how awesome that experience was.

I want to end with Adam's mission statement, as it were, that he shared in the Nerdy Book Club post.
"I’ve always believed that kids books should be ambitious. They should challenge children. Stretch their vocabularies. Or their courage. Stretch them emotionally and psychologically. Or stretch their imaginations. Maybe stretch their moral imaginations. But I have also always believed that ambition in kids books (in any book) is useless unless kids are actually reading the book. You can have the genius of James Joyce, but if you write like James Joyce, the kids will never get to experience your genius. The first priority is to get kids turning the pages. All the pages. All the way to the end. The second priority is to make it worth turning the pages.

"The Unicorn Rescue Society is pretty darn fun. When I write it, I generally find myself cackling like an idiot.

"But The Unicorn Rescue Society is also, I hope, worthwhile.

"Oh, and we rescue unicorns."
My job as a librarian isn't to share books I love, but to help kids discover books they like -- books that get them excited to read. Like Adam, I also believe that books have the potential to challenge, stretch and connect with kids. But I also know very clearly that this will never happen unless kids get hooked on a story, that they want to read the book in front of them.

Illustration copyright ©2017 Hatem Aly and the Mixtape Club founders Jesse Casey and Chris Lenox Smith. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Dutton Books for Young Readers / Penguin Publishing Group. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Humor Hooks Readers: book recommendations from the Bay Area Book Fest (ages 6-10)

We had a terrific time at the Bay Area Book Fest this weekend, and I want to share the book recommendations for funny books. Megan McDonald, Travis Nichols and LeUyen Pham were all so funny, thoughtful and kind. I was honored to facilitate this conversation.
Putting the FUN in Reading (downloadable PDF)
Funny picture books
The Bear Who Wasn't There, by LeUyen Pham
Betty's Burgled Bakery, by Travis Nichols
Disgusting Critters series, by Elise Gravel
Niño Wrestles the World, by Yuyi Morales

Funny chapter books
Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon
Judy Moody Was In a Mood, by Megan McDonald
Princess in Black, by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham
Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, by Megan McDonald
Unicorn Rescue Society, by Adam Gidwitz

Funny graphic novels
Astronaut Academy, by Dave Roman
Babymouse, by Jennifer Holm
Bird & Squirrel, by James Burks
Phoebe & Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson
Travis and Uyen both started drawing from a very early age, using pictures to tell stories. Drawing was really important to both of them as they tried to find their place in the world. Uyen talked about how she was very shy and realized that her classmates really liked the drawings she could do. She even started selling her drawings of popular movie characters to classmates!

I especially loved how Megan talked about the humor in Judy Moody stemming from how readers can relate to Judy. Megan read aloud the very beginning of Judy Moody Was In a Mood, and talked about how everyone knows how awful it is to be in a bad mood. But we can also laugh at how grumpy Judy gets. So while we're empathizing with her, we're also laughing at ourselves in a safe and gentle way.

A large part of humor is in the timing. With picture books, illustrators really work at using the page turn to create tension and set up the punchline. They also really play with kids' expectations and then turning the tables. We had a blast listening to some of the kids' jokes!
Listening to kids tell jokes.
Cracking up with the punchline!
(photo credit: Armin Arethna)
I also loved how they all agreed on the importance of pictures in creating the humor that hooks kids. Uyen emphasized how reading the pictures and seeing the funny setups there was just as important as reading the words. She read some of The Itchy Book!, her newest book that's part of the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series. That's a really important message to share with young kids who are struggling with decoding. They bring so much to the story by figuring out what's happening in the pictures!

Travis talked about how his newest book Betty's Burgled Bakery started from a failure. He was struggling with the followup to Foul Play, trying to focus the story on idioms, when it came to him how alliteration might be funnier and easier for kids to get. This makes me think about the way Uyen described incorporating her mistakes in artwork. She really likes doing artwork by hand and not just the computer, because the mistakes make her more creative and bring even more out of her drawings.

Many thanks to Travis, Uyen and Megan for their time, humor and kind spirits. Many thanks to the publishers for sponsoring their time, and to the Bay Area Book Festival for inviting us all to speak with kids and families. And many thanks to my friends and family who came out to support me! If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen, by Debbi Michiko Florence -- a new feisty, playful chapter book (ages 6-9)

Jasmine Toguchi stars in a new chapter book series, perfect for fans of Ivy & Bean. Young readers will relate to Jasmine as she struggles to convince her family that she's old enough to help pound the mochi (soft, gooey rice cakes) this New Year's. Jasmine is feisty and playful, and Debbi Michiko Florence balances humor with empathy as she brings readers into Jasmine's world.

Bring the Japanese New Year's tradition of making and sharing mochi into your home or classroom this year. Learn more at the Asian Art Museum and the Japanese American National Museum. Make this microwave mochi and see other activies with Jasmine Toguchi.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen
by Debbi Michiko Florence ; illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic
Farrar, Straus and Giroux / Macmillan, 2017
Amazon / your local library / preview on Google Books
ages 6-9
*best new book*
Jasmine's Japanese-American family is preparing for their special New Year's Day mochi-tsuki, when they pound rice to make mochi (rice cakes) with their extended family. It's a cleaning frenzy, and now Jasmine has to take orders from her bossy big sister Sophie. It's hard enough having to follow in Sophie's footsteps, but Jasmine can't even take part in making mochi until she's ten years old. This is going to be Sophie's first time helping the women shape the mochi with the women.

Suddenly, Jasmine gets an idea -- she's going to help the boys and men pound the mochi, turning the cooked rice into sticky, gooey mochi by pounding it in a stone bowl. But will she be able to lift the huge wooden mallet? Is she strong enough?

I especially love how Debbi Michiko Florence combines food, family and fun showing Japanese traditions in a familiar, modern setting. Many of my students will relate to Jasmine's feelings, trying to prove herself and to convince her family that gender stereotypes shouldn't limit her opportunities.

This chapter book reminds me of the spunk and vitality of two of my favorite series: Ivy & Bean and Ruby Lu. As Michele Knott points out in her review, it supports developing readers with having one main storyline with a clear problem that Jasmine tries to solve. Short chapters with frequent illustrations move the plot along. Relatable situations help readers connect with Jasmine and understand her feelings and motivations.

Jasmine Toguchi is an outstanding new chapter book series; Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth is already out and two more books come out this spring/summer. Look for other chapter books and early readers in the 2017 Nerdies: Early Readers & Chapter Books post.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Macmillan. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mysteries for young readers: perfect for young sleuths (ages 6-9)

It might be long nights or drizzly days, but winter strikes me as a perfect time to seek out a mystery. Young readers love solving the crime before the detective, and paying close attention to the clues is perfect for developing reading skills. These three favorites will get you started; for more ideas, check out my Pinterest board.
King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code
by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
Peachtree, 2017
Amazon / local library
ages 6-9
When a mysterious letter written arrives at Kayla’s house, she has trouble figuring out its secret code. King, her lovable dog, helps her follow the trail and solve the mystery. Young readers will laugh plenty as super-sleuth King tries to convince Kayla that she just needs to follow his lead. This delightful beginning reader series is perfect for 2nd & 3rd graders ready for several chapters building together.
The Case of the Stinky Socks: The Milo & Jazz Mysteries
by Lewis B. Montgomery, illustrated by Amy Wummer
Kane, 2009
Amazon / local library / Google Books preview
ages 6-9 
The Milo & Jazz Mysteries are favorites with our 3rd graders, drawing them in with likable characters, easy-to-solve mysteries and clues to discover along the way. In this series opener, Milo is excited to get his mail-order kit from Dash Marlowe, Super Sleuth, but it takes the help of his new neighbor Jazz to figure out who has taken the high school’s star pitcher’s lucky socks. I especially liked how Milo and Jazz were not friends at first, but realized that each brought their own skills to solving the mystery.
Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog!
by Hilde Lysiak and Matthew Lysiak, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Scholastic, 2017
Amazon / local library / Google Books preview
ages 6-9
Hilde Cracks the Case is a new chapter book series for beginning readers written by nine-year-old crime reporter Hilde Lysiak along with her dad. Hilde carefully observes the clues, tracks down the story, and calms irritated adults. Fast-paced action and snappy writing keep readers’ attention, and pages from Hilde’s notebook help young sleuths follow the clues. I'm excited to follow this new series and young author!

If your young readers like mysteries, I've created a Pinterest board with many other books for 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade readers:


The review copies were sent by the publishers, Scholastic Books and Peachtree Publishers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Reading on my own! Beginning reader series @AASL17 (ages 6-9)

Today I’m moderating a panel: Reading On My Own! Beginning Reader Series. We will talk with Megan McDonald (Judy Moody), Fran Manushkin (Katie Woo), Dori Butler (Kayla & King) and Richard Haynes (Slingshot & Burp) about writing for kids who are just beginning their reading journeys.
These authors sparkling with humor and wit, and they create books that are accessible and supportive for new readers. For these readers, a series helps create a comfortable, predictable story environment, but these authors' fresh, funny stories keep readers coming back wanting to read more.

Please add to this padlet (padlet.com/greatkidbooks/aasl17) and share ideas on terrific books to share with developing readers. Our readers at this stage need to read such a volume of books, that we need to help our developing readers find more to read. I like to think of them as book friends.

Follow along the tweets to hear all about the conversation: #AASL17 #Road2Reading.


©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#SummerReading 2017 for 1st & 2nd graders

First and second graders have made monumental leaps in their reading this year. Keep those reading muscles strong by feeding them a steady diet of fun books to read!

Here are some of my favorite beginning readers, chapter books, graphic novels and picture books for kids just finishing 1st and 2nd grade. Each day this week, I'll be sharing a post to help families read over the summer, organized by grade levels.
click for link to full 2017 summer reading lists, including printable form
Note: Our schools use the Fountas & Pinnell reading levels to help indicate "just right books" for students. I like to band these levels together, to look at a group of similar books.

Beginning to Read (levels G-H-I)
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig, by Emma Virján
Don't Throw It To Mo! by David Adler

Developing Readers (levels J-K)
My Family Adventure (Sofia Martinez), by Jacqueline Jules
Buzz Beaker and the Outer Space Trip, by Cari Meister

Exploring Animals All Around
I, Fly: The Buzz about Flies and How Awesome They Are, by Bridget Heos
Puppies and Kittens (Scholastic Discover More), by Penelope Arlon

Beginning with Chapter Books (levels L-M)
The Infamous Ratsos, by Kara LaReau
Lola Levine Is Not Mean, by Monica Brown

Graphic Novel Series We Love!
Hilo, by Judd Winick
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clayton

Having Fun with Chapter Book Series (levels N-O-P)
Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey
Notebook of Doom, by Troy Cummings

Fascinating Nonfiction
Miguel Cabrera, by Matt Doeden
Plants Can’t Sit Still, by Rebecca Hirsch

Picture Books Full of Imagination
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle
Surf's Up, by Kwame Alexander

CLICK HERE for all of the 2017 summer reading lists, grades K - 5.

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2017 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Monday, October 10, 2016

Latina girl power! Chapter books with Latina characters (ages 6-9)

Latino students are the fastest growing group in American schools. I was particularly struck last week by a new report highlighting this (see this NPR article), and how much it matches my own experiences as a teacher and community member. The report by The National Council of La Raza finds that Latino students are making significant gains, increasing high school graduation rate, but that challenges remain--especially with reading.

How can books help change this? Latino students need Latino role models, especially in the stories they read. This is especially important for girls. We must provide stories that include and share their voices. So today, I'd like to share five chapter books full of Latina girl power.
These new short chapter books feature strong, lively Latina girls. They are energetic and fun, with a modern sensibility. These girls solve problems, tackle challenges and embrace the love that their family and friends bring them. Most of all, they bring joy to our students, making reading a joyful, meaningful experience.

Chews Your Destiny: The Gumazing Gum Girl, by Rhode Montijo -- When Gabby Gomez realizes that a piece of special gum gives her stretch-tastic superpowers, she’s thrilled, discovering all sorts of ways to help out those in need.


Big News: Emma on the Air, by Ida Siegal -- Emma Perez dreams big and bold. She wants to be FAMOUS! When she sees an investigative reporter on the TV news, she knows that this is just the career for her.

Juana and Lucas, by Juana Medina -- Juana is an energetic, opinionated Colombian girl, who loves drawing, reading comic books and playing fútbol. but learning English is muy hard. Readers will enjoy Juana's high-spirits, zest for life and sense of humor, even as she struggles with one disaster after another.

Lola Levine Is Not Mean, by Monica Brown -- Lola's personality shines through in this series opener, as she apologizes to a classmate after fouling her in a soccer match. Although some kids tease her, calling her Mean Lola Levine, she shows them that she can be a Soccer Queen. Her bicultural family--Jewish, Peruvian--is an important source of humor and delightful inspiration.

My Family Adventure: Sofia Martinez, by Jacquline Jules -- Seven-year-old Sofia likes to stand out in her family. She does all sorts of things to get noticed -- from wearing a huge hair bow to making her grandmother a piñata for her birthday. This early chapter book is full of charm and kid appeal.

I must say that I have had a much harder time gathering a collection of books with young Latino boys as the central characters. I'd love any recommendations you might be able to share.

Many thanks to these publishers for kindly sending review copies: Disney-Hyperion, Scholastic, Candlewick, Little Brown, and Capstone. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Infamous Ratsos, by Kara LaReau -- Humor hooks developing readers (ages 6-9)

Reading can be tough work, so I often try to give developing readers a big dose of humor to keep them engaged in stories. These new readers also need a story that develops in a predictable way, so they can build a solid understanding of the plot and characters. The Infamous Ratsos, a new chapter book, hits the sweet spot--providing humor and a story that's engaging, but easy to follow.
The Infamous Ratsos
by Kara LaReau
illustrated by Matt Myers
Candlewick, 2016
Your local library
Amazon
ages 6-9
Louie and Ralphie want to be tough just like their dad, Big Lou. "There are two kinds of people in this world," Big Lou likes to say. "Those who are tough, and those who are soft." Louie and Ralphie decide they're going to show everyone just how tough they are.
"Let's do something," Louie says to Ralphie. "Something to make us look tough."
The brothers decide to play mean tricks on other people in order to look tough. On the playground, they steal big badger's hat on the playground, trying to look like playground bullies. But it turns out that they've rescued Tiny Crawley's hat which the badger (the real bully) had stolen. Nothing ever comes out quite like they plan--instead of doing dastardly deeds, they help people.
"That was nice of you boys, sticking up for Tiny," says Miss Beavers.
"We're not nice, we're TOUGH," Louie tries to explain...
But no one is listening. Instead, everyone on the playground is looking at the Ratso brothers like their heroes.
Short chapters, frequent illustrations and large font make this book well suited for developing readers. In four successive chapters, Ralphie and Louie try to do mean things and show everyone just how bad they are. Young readers will enjoy finding how things will turn out badly for the brothers, and soon will start predicting their mishaps.

I especially enjoyed the ending, when their dad finds out about how they've been helping people at school and in the neighborhood. LaReau has laid the groundwork--Big Lou's reaction isn't just that of a tough guy. He has a soft heart, too, especially when he thinks about Mama Ratso, who's been "gone" for a little while now.
"Being tough all the time is so... so... tough," says their father. He puts his arms around the Ratso brothers and pulls them close.
This beginning chapter book, similar in difficulty to a Frog and Toad book, will engage developing readers with its humor and twists, providing nice moments for talking about what the brothers learn in the story. A great choice for late 1st grade or early 2nd grade readers. Here's hoping for more trouble from the Louie and Ralphie.

Illustrations copyright © Matt Myers, 2016, shared with permission of the publisher. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Candlewick. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi -- a winning combination (ages 5-8)

Friends not only figure out how to work out conflicts, they also encourage each other and grow together. The Story of Diva and Flea is a delightful new chapter book that is going to have huge appeal, and at its heart it's a wonderful story of friendship.
The Story of Diva and Flea
by Mo Willems
illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Disney Hyperion, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
ages 5-8
*best new book*
Diva has lived at the same building in Paris for as long as she can remember, loyally guarding the front courtyard. "She took her job very seriously," making sure that everything is safe. But she is a very small dog, and just a little nervous.
"If anything ever happened, no matter how big or small, Diva would yelp and run away."
When alley-cat Flea wanders past Diva's building, flaneur-ing as he does through the streets of Paris, Flea is fascinated by the little dog. Unfortunately, Flea also finds it very funny when Diva yelps and runs away. This happens day after day, until Diva has had enough:
"Then one day Diva didn't yelp or run away. Instead, she looked right at Flea's big face and asked, 'Are you trying to hurt my feelings?' Flea had never thought about it like that."
Right from the beginning, readers know that Diva and Flea are completely different: one lives in the world of humans, the other explores the streets of Paris on his own. But it's this moment--when Flea realizes that he's hurt Diva's feelings--that the story crystalizes and captures readers' interest. Flea apologizes, and their friendship develops from there as the two learn from each other.
sketches of Diva and Flea, by Tony DiTerlizzi
With Flea's encouragement, Diva ventures out beyond the gates of her courtyard. It is scary for nervous little Diva, but she learns to trust Flea and be brave. I'd love to talk with kids about what helps Diva take these steps. How do friends support one another? How have they encouraged a friend?

I loved learning about the friendship behind this creation, how Mo Willems started with the idea of a story but then reached out to Tony DiTerlizzi. Enjoy watching this video where they share the story behind the story:

Please complete the rafflecopter below to enter for a chance at winning one copy of The Story of Diva and Flea and a DIY friendship bracelet kit. The giveaway will run from Tuesday, October 6th until Wednesday, October 14th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Illustrations ©2015 Tony DiTerlizzi. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Disney Hyperion. Giveaway open to US addresses only. Prizing is provided by Disney Publishing. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott: short chapter book with big appeal (ages 6-8)

Young children who are just ready to move beyond "beginning readers" need short chapter books with big appeal. These readers, often in 2nd grade, are still developing their reading stamina. Our students are loving Owl Diaries, a new series with big kid appeal.
Eva's Treetop Festival
Eva Sees a Ghost
Owl Diaries series
by Rebecca Elliott
Scholastic, 2015
Your local library
Amazon
read an excerpt
ages 6-8
When Eva gets a diary, she is sooo excited. She is so happy to tell all about her life at school, her best friend Lucy. Eva is a cheerful little owl, who acts and talks just like a bubbly little 7 year old girl. Eva begins by introducing herself, and this helps young readers build a sense of her world. Every page has drawings and only one or two short paragraphs.
"Hello Diary, My name is Eva Wingdale."
Eva is always full of ideas and enthusiastically pursues them. In the first book, she decides that her school should have a spring festival and undertakes planning it all by herself. In the second story, she's sure that she sees a ghost but is frustrated when no one will believe her. In both stories, Eva works to build her friendships and figure things out in a satisfying way.
"My very BEST friend in the whole owliverse is Lucy Beakman."
Rebecca Elliot's charming artwork is definitely the highlight. Eva and her friends have big, expressive eyes. The colors remind me of just the sorts of clothes that so many kids pick on their own. The text is simple to read, a bit on the overly cute side, but appropriate for the audience. 

The perfect audience for this short chapter book are kids who have moved beyond Henry and Mudge, but are not quite ready for the Magic Treehouse or the Rainbow Fairy books.

Illustrations ©2015 Rebecca Elliott. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Scholastic. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books