This collection of outstanding books is geared for new chapter book readers as the chapters are short, the font is large and there is a smattering of black-and-white illustrations found throughout the books. The first four books would be excellent to read-out-loud and are geared for all ages. And all but the last two books are good for ages 7 through 9 to read independently. The last two books are outstanding picture books good for all ages.
White Fur Flying, by Patricia MacLachlan, is a sweet story about how dogs can open lives and hearts when life is difficult. Zoe, and her sister, enjoy the Great Pyrenees dogs who are continually coming and going through their doorway. Their mother rescues these large dogs until a home can be found for them and their house seems to be full of these animals. One day a young boy moves next door. He is very quiet and doesn’t talk at all. But moving right next to this loving family with all of these animals seems to be just what he needs. This is a story that involves humor and friendship.
Following Grandfather, by Rosemary Wells, and illustrated with wonderful black and white pictures that are sprinkled throughout by Christopher Denise, is a touching tale about losing a loved one. Tiny Jenny is a mouse who used to be tended by her loving grandfather while her parents worked in their restaurant. The summer days are enjoyed by the beach where she relishes the clams her grandfather prepares for her. A walk through different neighborhoods brings about an appreciation of diversity that her grandfather teaches as they enjoy whomever they pass. Then one day her grandfather passes away and Jenny thinks she’s seeing him everywhere. This wonderful story, with short chapters, is beautifully written and is perfect to enjoy reading out loud.
The Web, by Nette Hilton, and illustrated by Kerrie Millard, has Jenny visiting her great-grandmother, Violet-Anne. Her great-grandmother lives in a quaint little cottage where Jenny enjoys all that surrounds her. One day, she spies a most unusual spider who has seven legs and is spinning the most amazing web Jenny has ever seen!
The Year of the Baby, by Andrea Cheng, and wonderfully illustrated by Patrice Barton, continues from last year’s “The Year of the Book”. Anna’s family has recently adopted a new baby sister from China. However, the baby doesn’t seem to be gaining weight. In fact, she’s actually losing weight. So Anna and her friends, who need something for their science fair project, decide this is the perfect subject for their project. They need to develop a solution to her new little sister’s problem. This compelling story dwells on the strength and value of family togetherness, education and friendship.
Heroes in Training: Hades and the Helm of Darkness, by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, and illustrated by Craig+ Phillips, is book three in this exciting series about Greek Gods. Hades loves his dark underworld even though other Gods dislike even being near it. However, Hades does not like dogs and now Zeus and his friends have found a three-headed dog. Hades needs to put aside his fears in order to tame this dog so the evil prisoner, Oceanus, can get back down in this underworld.
The Never Girls: In a Blink, by Kiki Thorpe, and illustrated by Jana Christy, becomes an exciting adventure when Kate and her two friends, and a little sister, get suddenly whisked away “in a blink” to Pixie Hollow. This is where the fairies live in Never Land. Finally, the tricky fairies are consigned to take them back to their homes. But Kate ends up going with Vidia, another fairy, and now all of them are stuck in Never Land. This is the first in a series.
My First Day, by Robin Page, and creatively illustrated with his trademark cut-paper collages by Steve Jenkins, showcases 23 newborn animals and how they experience their first day of life. My favorite description is how the mother zebras keep track of their young in a huge herd. The mother zebra memorizes the pattern of the stripes on their babies. The information found in this unique book is amazing!
This Moose Belongs to Me, by Oliver Jeffers, is a colorful picture book with a humorous story about a boy and his Moose. Wilfred is just the opposite of his Moose, Marcel. Wilfred likes rules, Marcel likes independence. Wilfred is small and Marcel is huge. As they travel over mountains, their adventures are fun and funny. And the backdrop paintings are gorgeous!