Sunday, April 8, 2012

Great Early Chapter Books

I thought this week I would post some great early chapter books you may not have heard about.  I think parents struggle the most during this phase of their child's reading to find great books.  It's tricky to get a book at just the right level, with just the right amount of illustrations, with just the the right vocabulary, that also interests your child.

If they don't like Ivy and Bean or Magic Tree House (or if they have finished these series,) it is sometimes difficult to find the other books out there that will inspire them.  I hope you like this weeks selection.  These books have great characters, fun plots and I hope they will inspire your child to continue their love of reading!

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Title:          Zeke Meeks vs the Putrid Puppet Pals
Author:      D.L. Green
Target:       Grades 1-3
Series:        Yes
What this book is about:
Zeke is in third grade, and when his friends begin buying the latest toy craze, Puppet Pals, he has no one to play basketball with at recess.  Without any one to play with, he considers using the allowance he has been saving for the Great Epic Superhero video game to buy Puppet Pals.  Will Zeke succumb to the latest toy phase or will he convince his friends that there are other things to do that can be more fun?
Why I love this book:
This book surprised me.  It was funny and smart at the same time.  Zeke is actually a very real and likable character and the author captured the feelings of kids obsessed with any commercially driven toy fad - can you say silly banz!  The other characters that surround Zeke are also well done.  Kids will love Zeke’s little sister who can’t stop singing princess jingles, Grace the class bully with fingernails sharp, as well nails, and Owen the smooth talking popular kid who charms his way around the class.
I also want to add that the illustrations by Josh Alves are well done and quite clever.  They add quite a bit of humor to the book.
Who this book is for:
Great for early chapter book readers with pictures on each page and larger text.  This book is full of good stuff but never feels overwhelming.
Final thoughts:
Zeke Meeks - defender of the puppet pal free playground!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Zeke Meeks vs the Putrid Puppet Pals

Title:          Princess Posey and the Perfect Present
Author:      Stephanie Greene
Target:       Kindergarten - Grade 2
Series:        Yes

What this book is about:
Posey is in love with first grade.  She loves her friends, her classroom and her teacher.  When her teacher’s birthday comes up, Posey decides on the perfect present, a flower from her garden.  But when her best friend brings in a huge bouquet, Posey has to figure out if her present is good enough.
Why I love this book:
Charming.  Posey is a delightful character who has to deal with real feelings of jealousy and managing first grade friends.  Her actions and emotions are perfectly age appropriate and relatable to any kindergartner up to second grader.
Who this book is for: Girls just starting chapter books.  The pages are not overwhelming, there are plenty of pictures and the chapters are short.

Final thoughts:
A perfect present for a girls wanting to get her hands on a chapter book!  This is also a series with four titles so more Princess Posey to go around!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Princess Posey and the Perfect Present: Book 2

Title:          Roscoe Riley
Author:      Katherine Applegate
Target:       Grades K-2
Series:        Yes
What this series is about:
Instead of talking about the first book, thought I would just dive into the whole series!  Roscoe is a good hearted first grader who seems to run into trouble on a regular basis.  The title does not refer to the fact that he “rules” but the fact that his adventures usually lead to a list of rules that one should follow to not get into the same trouble again.  While he never goes looking for trouble, trouble always seems to find him!
Why I love these books:
Roscoe is a nice kid without being sappy or unrealistic.  His rules are always funny and telling  without feeling like lessons.  There is a dry sense of humor to these books.  In the end these are just fun and well written adventures.
Who these books are for:
Great for early chapter book readers.  Sentences and spacing are not overwhelming.  There are not pictures on every page, but they are scattered throughout each chapter.
Final thoughts:
Thought in the spirit of a book blog I should share a few of Roscoe’s rules for the bookstore:
  1. Do not ask the bookstore lady to come to your house and read you a bedtime story.  She has other plans.
  2. There will never be enough books about dinosaurs, pirates or boogers.
  3. The bookstore manager cannot call your favorite author and ask why it is taking so long for her to write another book.”
To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here:Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs

Title:          Anna Hibiscus
Author:      Atinuke
Target:       Grades K-2
Series:        Yes
What this book is about:
Anna Hibiscus is a young girl who lives in Africa, “Amazing Africa!”  In the four stories written by our author, we learn about how Anna lives and thrives in a house full of Aunties and Uncles, cousins and grandparents. We learn about some of the hardships in the world around her, despite their modern conveniences.  We discover how concerned the family is that an Aunty who has moved to the States might have lost the ways of Africa.  And we finally get a chance to see how much Anna wants to see the miracle of a snowy day!
Why I love this book:
Generally multicultural books feel contrived to me and I must admit that I didn’t have a lot of initial hope for Anna Hibiscus.  However, these stories are absolutely charming.  They are full of humor, and while the surroundings are certainly different than what we experience, the human emotions and feelings are just the same!
I loved that I got a peak into family life in Africa.  What the author did so well was to tell four wonderful stories that also just happen to show kids what life is like in another culture.  
Who this book is for:
Kids reading chapter books should be able to easily read Anna Hibiscus.  There are plenty of illustrations on each page, but the four stories themselves are longer than actual chapters so that could be a challenge.  It is also a great read aloud, and in fact, that is how my daughter and I enjoyed (and loved) the book.
Final thoughts:
Anna, Amazing Anna!  A lovely early chapter book!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Anna Hibiscus

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