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Review of Charlie & Mouse

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder; illus. by Emily Hughes Primary    Chronicle    48 pp. 4/17    978-1-4521-3153-5    $14.99 This beginning chapter book is filled to the brim with sincere, slice-of-life sibling moments. In four chapters, brothers Charlie and Mouse spend a day together in their home and neighborhood. Adults are present, but the focus is on […]

Five questions for Juana Medina

Juana Medina’s 2017 Pura Belpré Award–winning Juana & Lucas (Candlewick, 5–8 years) introduces new readers to a new set of friends, a Colombian girl named Juana (just like the author) and her perro, Lucas. Eleven brief and breezy chapters, copiously illustrated with cheery ink and watercolor pictures, tell about Juana’s life growing up in Bogotá […]

Friendly feuds

Around the same time children are making brave first steps as independent readers, they’re also enlarging their friendship sphere. These four new early chapter books humorously tackle some classic friendship conflicts young readers may encounter — and model some possible resolutions. The answer to the titular question of Leo Landry’s What’s Up, Chuck? is: green-eyed […]

They can do it!

Primary readers will cheer these determined everygirl heroines as they face — and conquer — relatable challenges, from learning a new language to speaking up to clueless parents. Author Jacqueline Kelly first introduced readers to aspiring naturalist/veterinarian Callie in the middle-grade novels The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. Now […]

Chapter books | Class #3, fall 2016

This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I think is essential in early […]

Friends to the animals

The following chapter books feature kids — and kids at heart — whose animal-loving ways lead to beautiful interspecies friendships. In Frances O’Roark Dowell’s Sam the Man & the Chicken Plan, seven-year-old Sam Graham is too young to have a real job. But when neighbor Mrs. Kerner tries to hire Sam’s too-busy older sister to […]

Recommended School Stories: Intermediate

Barnett, Mac and John, Jory The Terrible Two 220 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1491-7 Ebook ISBN 978-1-61312-763-6 Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Forced to leave behind his proud reputation as class prankster, Miles Murphy dreads starting over in a new town. Miles finds himself paired up with do-gooder Niles at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy […]

Recommended School Stories: Easy Readers and Chapter Books

Cheng, Andrea The Year of the Book 148 pp. Houghton 2012. ISBN 978-0-547-68463-5 Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Nine-year-old Anna, who always has her head stuck in a book, sometimes uses reading as a shield against social exclusion (of the specialized fourth-grade-girl kind) and her own lack of confidence. Cheng’s telling is as straightforward yet sympathetic […]

Review of Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? 
[Tales from Deckawoo Drive] by Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Chris Van Dusen Primary    Candlewick    101 pp. 8/16    978-0-7636-7311-6    $14.99    g DiCamillo continues the relay of Tales from Deckawoo Drive, as minor characters from previous books (Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, rev. 9/14; Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon, rev. 9/15) […]

Welcome, new readers!

Four welcome books — two easy readers and two beginning chapter books — invite new readers in using humor and tried-and-true formats and structures. The Thank You Book is (sob!) the final entry in Mo Willems’s hugely popular series of easy readers featuring the free-spirited Piggie and her best friend, the reliable if sometimes officious […]