This week’s review is filled with books that help transition readers from leveled books to chapter books. These books have stories kids enjoy reading, which helps instill in them the love of reading. I’ll begin with the earliest chapter books and progress to books with more pages, smaller font, less pictures and more complex story-lines. There is an easy formula for parents to quickly locate books that will match their child’s reading level: the thickness of the book, the amount of pictures, size of font and plot. The first group of books have illustrations on every page. The usual age for beginning chapter readers is ages six to eight.
Captain Awesome, and the Ultimate Spelling Bee, by Stan Kirby, and illustrated by George O’Connor, is the latest book in this fun and interesting series geared mostly for boys. Eugene is a quiet 2nd grader who takes on the superhero alter ego when he must help keep his town safe. But now Eugene is representing the grade in the spelling bee and so is his nemesis.
Ricky Vargas: Born to be Funny!, by Alan Katz, and illustrated by Stacy Curtis, is the second book in this series that features young Ricky who thinks of himself as the funniest kid ever. But then he finds his first un-funny day is frustrating and he must get his humor back.
Monstrous Stories: Night of the Zmbie Gold Fish, by Dr. Roach, is one of several stories in the Monstrous Stories series and they are all humorous and light-hearted reads. This story involves a science experiment that gets into the fish food of two friends and the trouble begins.
Monkey & Robot, by Peter Catalanotto, has four delightful stories that are all about sweet friendship even though both main characters are so different from each other. Each story can stand alone and all are short.
Scholastic has a new line of transitional early chapter books, Branches, that will go on sale in May. These new books have all the elements that new readers will thoroughly enjoy. They include: Missy’s Super Duper Roal Deluxe Picture Day, by Susan Nees, Boris on the Move, by Andrew Joyner, Looniverse Stranger Things, by David Lubar, The Notebook of Doom and Lotus Lane, by Kyla May.
The next books are longer and have less pictures and a smaller font.
The Adventures of Jo Schmo, by Greg Trine, and illustrated by Frank W. Dormer, continues the series about superhero Jo, and her sidekick doggy. The only problem is she can’t find crimes to fight so she goes back in time to locate the outlaw Wyatt and bring him to justice.
Martha Speaks: Detective Dog, based on the Susan Meddaugh characters, is a great book to introduce mysteries to new chapter readers. Martha is a very brilliant dog (who can also talk) and she sets out to solve mysteries in two different stories in this book. The pictures in the book are all colorful. “Martha Speaks” is an outstanding series kids love.
Scream Team: The Zombie at the Finish Line, by Bill Doyle, and illustrated by Jared Lee, is number four in this funny series. It’s time for the Junior Monster Leagues track-and-field competition and Patsy the Zombie has trained for the Die-athalon, but can she finish? Number 3 in the series is another funny story: “The Bigfoot in the End Zone”.
This last group of books has fewer pictures and much more complex story-lines than the previous books mentioned.
Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, and illustrated by Craig Phillips, is the first book in this exciting series that features mythological figures in adventures that will have your youngster turning pages until reaching the end. Ten-year-old Zeus keeps getting struck by lightening until he finally discovers why. “Poseidon and the Sea of Fury” is book two and book three will be published in April. “Goddess Girls: Pandora the Curious” is by the same authors and a similar storyline but features female heroes.
Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s Guide to Fighting Evil, by Scott Peterson, is one in a series and this book is full of secret spy tips, jokes, fill-in activities and more.
Agatha Girl of Mystery: The Curse of the Pharaoh, by Sir Steve Stevenson, and illustrated by Stefano Turconi, is a new series that features a smart girl detective who ends up in Egypt to discover a secret about the ancient Pharaoh. Number two book is “The Pearl of Bengal”.
Ballpark Mysteries: The Wrigley Riddle, by David A. Kelly, and illustrated by Mark Meyers, is #6 that takes place in different pro-league stadiums. This great mystery takes place in Chicago.
Nancy Clancy: Secret Admirer, by Jane O’Connor, and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, features Nancy and her best friend, Bess, as they learn all about the human heart in their science class. They attempt to lineup their babysitter and music teacher, but interesting events await them.
The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True and The Adventures of Sir Balin the Ill-Fated, both by Gerald Morris, are two books in this excellent series that takes readers back to the Arthurian legend. What I love about these books is they teach honor, trust and honesty, along with other great character traits.