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New (and old) friends for beginning readers

Many beginning readers love visiting familiar characters. Here are two continuations of existing series; one spinoff of an old favorite; and the beginning of a series whose characters may quickly feel like old friends.

new readers_depaola_when andy met sandyTomie dePaola and Jim Lewis debut a series for just-beginning readers, with entertaining, expressive illustrations by dePaola. In the first entry, When Andy Met Sandy, Sandy shows up at the playground that Andy was enjoying having to himself. In Andy and Sandy’s Anything Adventure, the two play dress-up at Andy’s house. Each book uses one sentence per page, with large font, repetition, and strong visual clues to support new readers. Andy and Sandy’s friendship is off to a good start. (Simon, 5–8 years)

lin_ling and ting together in all weatherIn Grace Lin’s fourth easy reader about Ling and Ting — Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather — six brief chapters take the twins through the seasons. First, a thunderstorm finds them hiding under a blanket (they are not scared, just “surprised”). On a summer day they sell all their lemonade — to each other. Raking leaves must be done over again, since first Ting’s hat and then Ling’s might be at the bottom of the autumn leaf pile. In winter, Ting claims to be sick to avoid shoveling snow, but Ling’s made-up (and smelly) “old Chinese medicine” drives her out of bed. In spring, they spot “twin rainbows” that mirror their relationship. As always, the girls’ personalities shine through in both text and illustrations. (Little, Brown, 5–8 years)

nilsson_detective gordon the first caseIn Ulf Nilsson’s Detective Gordon: A Complicated Case, Detective Gordon (a toad) and Police Assistant Buffy (a mouse) investigate their second case: someone has been saying “nasty things” to fellow forest creatures. The truth of the situation is more complex than it first appears, and Gordon and Buffy’s application of the law is just and compassionate. Nilsson’s text and the cozy forest-set illustrations by Gitte Spee are full of humor and affection, making for a thoughtful but light-handed exploration of the topics of teasing and bullying. (Gecko, 5–8 years)

new readers_pennypacker_waylonThe end of Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine series means the beginning of a spinoff series about one of Clementine’s classmates. In Waylon!: One Awesome Thing, illustrated by Marla Frazee, aspiring scientist Waylon has something confusing to consider as fourth grade begins: all the boys in the class are being divided into two teams by king-bee Arlo. Home is strange, too, with his older sister suddenly wanting to be known as Neon and dressing in black. Pennypacker has created another series featuring a likable kid with lots of heart. Give this to readers who enjoy realistic school stories with a tinge of scientific inquiry. (Disney-Hyperion, 6–9 years)

From the March 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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