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Lights, camera, chapter books!

These lighthearted outings for early primary readers offer adventures both everyday (a run-in with a teacher, a classmate rivalry) and extraordinary (a dog’s rise to superstardom and…a ghost raccoon sighting).

davis_flop to the topIn Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing’s Flop to the Top!, young Wanda is a superstar — in her own mind. After posting a selfie taken with her droll, droopy-faced dog, Wilbur, she scores millions of online likes and hordes of admirers fill her street. But instead of Wanda, the crowd wants “FLOPPY DOG!” Wife-and-husband team Davis and Weing share author-illustrator duties for this expertly paced — and funny and topical — early-reader comic, with digitally rendered illustrations infused with warmth, color, and whimsy. (TOON, 5–8 years)

potter_piper green and the fairy treePiper Green, resident of Peek-a-Boo Island, Maine, and star of Ellen Potter’s Piper Green and the Fairy Tree, is about to start second grade. For her, this involves taking a lobster boat to school and insisting on wearing green monkey-face earmuffs. Her new teacher looks like a princess, so Piper assumes she’ll have a tinkly voice and won’t mind about the earmuffs; but Ms. Arabella does not live up to expectations. Very brief chapters and frequent illustrations by Qin Leng advance the story, as does Piper’s spunky first-person narration. How the standoff is resolved makes for a satisfying, funny early chapter book. (Knopf, 5–8 years)

mills_izzy barr running starIn Izzy Barr, Running Star, Izzy’s passion and dedication have made her the fastest runner in the third grade. That is, until classmate Skipper — whose dad is their P.E. teacher and the coach for Franklin School’s Fitness Club — beats her. Author Claudia Mills presents and resolves problems in a winning story, the third installment in the Franklin School Friends series, with friendly illustrations by Rob Shepperson. (Farrar/Ferguson, 5–8 years)

dicamillo_francine pouletFans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s Mercy Watson books will remember Francine Poulet, the animal control officer who tried to net Mercy in Mercy Watson Thinks like a Pig. In Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon, Francine — fearless, and with an impressive resumé — receives a call about an unusual raccoon (“He shimmers! He screams like a banshee!”) on a roof. When the shimmery raccoon screams “Frannnnnnnnnnnyyyyy!” and hurtles toward her on the roof, she loses her confidence, and then her balance. The wacky plot comes smartly together with humorous insights and lively illustrations. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the November 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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