From The Guide: New for New Readers

As the Horn Book editors discuss in this issue, we’re experiencing an “Easy Reader Renaissance,” with publishers exploring all the possibilities of these mainstays of children’s literature. The recommended examples below offer a glimpse at the wide variety of easy readers that are available for the equally wide variety of children who are beginning their reading journeys.

—Cynthia K. Ritter
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide


Bell, Cece  Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit
42 pp.     Candlewick     2016    ISBN 978-0-7636-7935-4

Gr. K–3  In the follow-up to Geisel Honor book Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, Rabbit shows up at Robot’s house, but Robot has another friend there. Can Rabbit overcome his jealousy of Robot and (frog) Ribbit’s friendship? Alliterative wordplay adds another amusing level to Bell’s endearing story about a duo becoming a trio. Full-color digital illustrations give new readers plot clues.

Bolger, Kevin  See Fred Run
40 pp.     HarperCollins/Harper     2017     ISBN 978-0-06-228602-4

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Ben Hodson. On his second metafictive outing (Fun with Ed and Fred), Fred once again clashes with the offstage narrator. While Ed obediently bikes and jumps on command, Fred refuses to cooperate. So the narrator summons “hungry tigers” and “angry gorillas” to make Fred comply. Kid-friendly slapstick abounds in this comic book/easy reader hybrid that introduces key visual literacy techniques along with fifty-nine sight words.

Delacre, Lulu  Rafi and Rosi: Pirates!
64 pp.     Lee/Children’s     2017     ISBN 978-0-89239-381-7
Paperback ISBN 978-0-89239-383-1

Gr. K–3  Dive Into Reading! series. In three entertaining stories, tree frog siblings Rafi and Rosi explore Puerto Rico’s El Morro fort by playing pirates, finding gold doubloons, and discovering a haunted sentry box. This third series entry again sprinkles Spanish words throughout a slightly advanced text supported by soft watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations. Extensive back matter provides historical information about topics mentioned in the stories. Glos.

Meister, Cari  Tiny Saves the Day
32 pp.     Penguin     2016     ISBN 978-0-448-48294-1
Paperback ISBN 978-0-448-48293-4

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Rich Davis. Penguin Young Readers series. Oversize dog Tiny has many friends—but cat Kiki won’t give him the time of day, despite Tiny’s best efforts one snowy afternoon. When Kiki gets stuck in a tree, though, Tiny comes to the rescue. Narrated by Tiny’s little-boy owner (Eliot, from previous Tiny books), the text, aimed at the newest readers, is simple yet satisfying. Davis’s illustrations convey the many personalities.

O’Connor, Jane  JoJo and Daddy Bake a Cake
32 pp.     HarperCollins/Harper     2017     ISBN 978-0-06-237802-6
Paperback ISBN 978-0-06-237801-9

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Rick Whipple. I Can Read Book series. Nancy, schmancy: Fancy Nancy’s little sister JoJo is now carrying her own early reader series. This time, JoJo is baking a cake with Daddy’s help, but she will tell only Nancy who it’s for (“I zip my lips”). After the sibs fancify the cake, they surprise Daddy with it. It’s a fully baked effort, and Whipple nails Fancy Nancy illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser’s bedazzled style.

Ryan, Pam Muñoz  Tony Baloney: Yo Ho Ho, Halloween!
40 pp.     Scholastic     2016     ISBN 978-0-545-90885-6

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. Penguin Tony “does not love trouble…but trouble loves him.” When he ruins his store-bought pirate costume before the school Halloween parade, Tony’s family, instead of assigning blame, helps him still “stand out in the crowd.” Saturated colors and vibrant, expressive line drawings highlight Tony’s excitement and innocent misdeeds in a welcome addition to the popular series for emerging readers.

Silverman, Erica  Lana’s World: Let’s Go to the Moon!
32 pp.     Houghton     2017     ISBN 978-0-544-86760-4
Paperback ISBN 978-0-544-86761-1

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Jess Golden. Green Light Readers series. When Lana can’t convince her family to go to the moon (it’s “far away” and “has no gravity”), she decides to go by herself. With glow-in-the-dark stars on her walls, some boxes-turned-rocketship, and a bit of imagination, Lana blasts off. Golden’s watercolor illustrations effectively complement Silverman’s text, which is just challenging enough for an emergent reader and dynamic enough for a classroom read-aloud.

Thomas, Jan  There’s a Pest in the Garden!
48 pp.     Houghton     2017     ISBN 978-0-544-94165-6
ebook ISBN 978-1-328-81001-4

Thomas, Jan  What Is Chasing Duck?
48 pp.     Houghton     2017     ISBN 978-0-544-93907-3
ebook ISBN 978-1-328-81002-1

Gr. K–3  Ready-to-Laugh Reader series. In the first two entries of this high-energy, giggle- inducing beginning-reader series, a ragtag group of animals tries to stop a nuisance in the garden (Pest) and figure out what is after them (Chasing). Bold words in the text and speech balloons helpfully emphasize inflection when reading. Digital illustrations with thick lines and bright colors are expressive and funny.

From the March/April 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Reviews are from recent issues of The Horn Book Guide. For more information about subscribing to The Horn Book Guide Online, please visit
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