Skiing squirrels, robot pals, lovebird mammals, and story-time creatures in (not too much) peril. These new books for the youngest readers are ones that kids will be able to — and, perhaps more importantly, will want to — read.
New readers are in for a treat with the Urgency Emergency! series by Dosh Archer. Big Bad Wolf and Itsy Bitsy Spider are set in an emergency room where Doctor Glenda (a dog) and Nurse Percy (a rooster) ably assist their familiar nursery-rhyme and fairy-tale patients. Muted colors on a rich yellow background in a droll cartoon style keep the action light and to the point. A limited, easy-to-decode vocabulary in a large typeface will allow emerging readers to confidently read — and reread — these delightful adventures. (Whitman, 5–8 years)
The latest in the Mouse and Mole series by Wong Herbert Yee, Mouse and Mole, Secret Valentine, is full of blushing cheeks, butterflies-in-stomachs, and goofy grins — all just right for Valentine’s Day. As best friends Mouse and Mole prepare for the holiday, they start feeling fluttery and awkward around each other. Meanwhile, a mysterious message by a secret admirer has Mouse flummoxed. Repetition in the text and picture clues in the warm, cozy illustrations will help attentive readers solve the mystery of Mouse’s secret admirer before she does. (Houghton, 5–8 years)
A goofy rhyming story about a bunch of skiing squirrels is a recent offering in Random House’s Beginner Books series. When her town is overrun by hordes of ski-crazed squirrels, young reporter Sally Sue Breeze must find a solution before the mayor vacuums them up. Squirrels on Skis features hilarious action-filled illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre. J. Hamilton Ray’s sometimes-challenging text might be a bit difficult for the newest readers, but the art will help with comprehension. (Random/Beginner, 5–8 years)
Robot, Go Bot! by Dana Meachen Rau, part of the Step into Reading Comic Readers series, starts with a little girl contemplating boxes of parts. She tinkers, and then…“Robot!” Turn the page and she’s pressing a big, red start button: “Go, Bot!” The girl has made a friend for herself. The two play nicely together (“Throw, Bot”) until the girl’s bossiness ticks her pal off. There’s a nice rhythm to the spare, mostly rhyming text (in speech balloons), complemented by Wook Jin Jung’s unfussy digital-looking illustrations in lime-greens, sky-blues, and other cool hues. (Random, 5–8 years)
From the January 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.