November 17, 2017

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Spring Ahead! | Chapter Books Series Update

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1603-Chap-Series-CVstrip-1Adderson, Caroline. Public Library Enemy #1. illus. by Mike Shiell. 124p. (Jasper John Dooley). Kids Can. Apr. 2016. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781771380157.

Gr 2-4 –Jasper desperately wants to read to the dog at the public library; he’s certain he can find a book that will make her stop frowning. When a series of disasters strike and his library book is destroyed, Jasper must find a way to pay for the book or else he’ll never get his chance. Expressive black-and-white illustrations are sprinkled throughout the story. This installment will have kids laughing out loud as they’re learning how to treat library books responsibly.

Alter, Anna. A New Arrival. illus. by Anna Alter. 128p. (Sprout Street Neighbors: Bk. 2). ebook available. Knopf. Jan. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780385755627; lib. ed. $15.99. ISBN 9780385755634.

Gr 2-4 –Six episodic chapters follow the residents of 24 Sprout Street as they welcome a new neighbor from Hawaii. Each neighbor relates a small adventure like sharing breakfast with a friend, voting on a new house paint color, or navigating snowy day grocery shopping. With small black-and-white illustrations on nearly every page, these sweet adventures are perfect for fans of Arnold Lobel’s “Frog & Toad” series or Cynthia Rylant’s “Poppleton” series who are ready for longer chapter books.

Birney, Betty G. Humphrey’s School Fair Surprise. illus. by Priscilla Burris. 112p. (Humphrey’s Tiny Tales). Putnam. Jan. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780399172298.

Gr 1-3 –When he finds out that Room 26 will march in a parade at the school fair, Humphrey the hamster is so excited, especially when he learns that the children will be featuring him and Og the Frog on their class signs. But when Mrs. Brisbane decides it’s too dangerous to allow pets to march, Aldo the janitor comes up with a creative solution. These early chapter book companions to Birney’s middle-grade Humphrey stories feature a nicely developed voice and facts about pet care inserted organically into the narrative. These books stand alone well, but animal lovers won’t want to miss Humphrey’s other adventures.

Greene, Stephanie. Princess Posey and the Crazy, Lazy Vacation. illus. by Stephanie Roth Sisson. 96p. (Princess Posey, First Grader: Bk. 10). ebook available. Putnam. Feb. 2016. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780399169632; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780147512932.

Gr 1-3 –It’s Spring Break, but Posey’s family isn’t taking a trip; how can she have an exhilarating vacation if they’re just staying home? What her mom says will be a lazy vacation turns into a crazy one as Posey learns to ride a new bike without training wheels, loses a tooth, attends a sleepover, and eats pancakes for dinner. Sweet black-and-white illustrations deepen the emotions felt by the characters and break up the text. These small adventures will be familiar situations to young readers, making this a great choice for children just starting to read chapter books.

Hale, Shannon & Dean Hale. The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde. illus. by LeUyen Pham. 96p. (Princess in Black). Candlewick. Feb. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763665135.

Gr 1-3 –Princess Magnolia and her faithful pony Blackie are just about to join their friend for brunch when Magnolia’s monster ring goes off, alerting her to a new threat. When she reaches the pasture, she doesn’t see any monsters, just a bunch of cute bunnies. However, these bunnies are more than meets the eye, eating absolutely everything in sight, and the Princess in Black will have to count on her friends to help save the day. This is the Princess in Black’s cutest adventure yet and it will be most appreciated by those who have already been introduced to her in the previous books. Full color illustrations bring the action (and cuteness!) to life. Children who like funny adventure stories will eat this one up (pardon the pun).

1603-Chap-Series-CVstrip-2McDonald, Megan. Stink and the Attack of the Slime Mold. illus. by Peter H. Reynolds. 144p. (Stink). ebook available. Candlewick. Feb. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780763655549.

Gr 1-3 –When Stink finds out the Saturday Science Club will be growing slime molds, he is a little freaked out, having just seen a horror movie called The Glob at the drive-in theater. It turns out that a slime mold is a pretty cool pet: polite and quiet, even if it does look like dog vomit. Stink’s latest adventure will appeal to kids interested in science and young readers who like all things gross and slimy.

MacPhail, David. Thorfinn the Nicest Viking and the Awful Invasion. ISBN 9781782501589.

––––. Thorfinn the Nicest Viking and the Gruesome Games. ISBN 9781782501596.

ea vol: illus. by Richard Morgan. 136p. (Thorfinn the Nicest Viking). ebook available. Floris/Kelpies. Dec. 2015. pap. $6.95.

Gr 2-4 –Harald the Skull-Splitter is a fearsome Viking chief, but his son? That’s another story. Thorfinn is very nice indeed, which is the exact opposite of what the Viking villagers want. However, it turns out that Thorfinn’s manners and his spirit of friendly competition just might save the day. The first book introduces Thorfinn and explains how he got his Viking name (Thorfinn the Very-Very-Nice-Indeed), while the second book continues Thorfinn’s adventures as his Viking village travels to the International Gruesome Game. The juxtaposition of Thorfinn’s extreme politeness with his rough-and-tumble Viking surroundings brings plenty of laughs, and black-and-white vignette illustrations add to the humor of the story. Hand these to fans of “How to Train Your Dragon” who aren’t quite ready for Cressida Cowell’s books.

Manning, Matthew. Batman: Gotham City’s Guardian. illus. by Steven Gordon. ISBN 9780545868167; ISBN 9780545913676.

Wallace, Daniel. Superman: The Man of Tomorrow. illus. by Patrick Spaziante. ISBN 9780545868181; ISBN 9780545913713.

ea vol: 128p. (Backstories). Scholastic. Feb. 2016. pap. $5.99. ebk. $5.99.

Gr 3-6 –From Bruce Wayne’s childhood tumble down a bat cave and Clark Kent’s Smallville upbringing to the amazing escapades of Batman and Superman, these “biographies” offer a great introduction to these superheroes’s stories. Written like nonfiction biographies, complete with illustrated newspaper headlines, “photos”, timelines, and glossaries, these books are sure to appeal to superhero fans who can’t get enough of their favorites or children whose parents want to get them started on fandom.

O’Neal, Shaquille. Little Shaq Takes a Chance. illus. by Theodore Taylor III. 80p. (Little Shaq). Bloomsbury Press. Apr. 2016. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781619638440.

Gr 1-3 –This second book in the “Little Shaq” series by NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal shows Little Shaq’s reluctance to try anything new—not the sushi his mom makes for dinner and not the art class where Shaq doesn’t think he has much talent. When he finally decides to take a chance, Little Shaq discovers that sushi is delicious and that he loves sculpting. Lively full color illustrations break up the text. Early chapter book readers will find much to identify with in this book as Shaq learns a lesson about being open to new experiences.

1603-Chap-Series-CVstrip-3Ostow, Micol. Louise Trapeze Did NOT Lose the Juggling Chickens. illus. by Brigette Barrager. 112p. (A Stepping Stone Book). Random. Feb. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780553497434; lib. ed. $17.99. ISBN 9780553497441; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780553497458.

Gr 2-4 –Louise, a child member of the Sweet Potato Traveling Circus Troupe, wants to take on responsibility for some jobs of her own around the circus, but she must prove to her parents that she’s ready. When she gets the chance to watch Chuck Cluck’s juggling chickens, she is careful to take care of them just right, but mistakes still happen. This is a great book for kids beginning to take on responsibility of their own or anyone who is afraid to make mistakes. Black-and-white illustrations interspersed throughout the text illuminate circus life. Louise is Fancy Nancy meets Clementine and fans of either won’t want to miss this series.

Sherry, Kevin. Attack of the Kraken. illus. by Kevin Sherry. 128p. (The Yeti Files: Bk. 3). Scholastic. Apr. 2016. Tr $8.99. ISBN 9780545857819; ebk. $8.99. ISBN 9780545859516.

Gr 1-3 –Yeti Blizz Richards transports his crew to the lost city of Atlantis where a kraken is causing trouble. All is not well in the depths of the ocean where the Mayor of Atlantis will stop at nothing to mine power crystals for his city. The plot speeds along haphazardly with big doses of humor, especially in the plentiful cartoon illustrations. Hand this series to kids who dig the wacky, cartoony humor of Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” series.

Springstubb, Tricia. Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe. illus. by Eliza Wheeler. 144p. (Cody). ebook available. Candlewick. Apr. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763658588.

Gr 2-5 –Cody is ecstatic that her best friend Spencer is moving in around the corner; she can’t wait to show him the ropes around school and the neighborhood. But Spencer doesn’t seem to need her as much as Cody thought he would: the evil Mrs. Spindle actually takes a liking to him and Spencer seems to have no trouble making friends, leaving Cody on the outside. Add to that her run-ins with the Meens, territorial kids who live next door to Spencer, and Cody’s got a lot to deal with this school year. Fans of the first adventure won’t want to miss Cody’s second, and kids who enjoy series with a standout voice will embrace this well-written offering.

Webb, Holly. The Brave Kitten. ISBN 9781589254800.

––––. Leo All Alone. ISBN 9781589254824.

––––. The Secret Puppy. ISBN 9781589254831.

––––. Sky the Unwanted Kitten. ISBN 9781589254817.

ea vol: illus. by Sophy Williams. 128p. (Pet Rescue Adventures). Tiger Tales. Mar. 2016. pap. $4.99.

Gr 2-4 –Each standalone volume in the “Pet Rescue Adventure” series features a tween child longing for a pet and a pet in need of a good home. Familiar situations like welcoming a new baby sibling, moving to a new house, or taking a family vacation are good backdrops to these stories, which will resonate with children who love animals. Pencil illustrations bring out the emotions of animal as well as human characters. Young fans of Ellen Miles’s “Puppy Place” series will enjoy these pet stories, too.

Young, Jessica. Digging for Dinos. illus. by James Burks. 80p. (Haggis and Tank Unleashed: Bk. 2). Scholastic/Branches. Feb. 2016. Tr ISBN 9780545818896.

Gr 1-3 –This highly illustrated early chapter book reads like a Saturday morning cartoon with plenty of puns and nonstop action. Haggis and Tank set out on a hunt for dinosaurs, but soon get in over their heads when they stop to babysit some dinosaur eggs. Dinosaurs start showing up, but just as the duo runs from a T-Rex and then an exploding volcano, readers will realize that the heroes have been in a backyard the whole time and this adventure is a product of pretend play. This imaginative mishap is a lot of fun and the many full-color panels and plentiful speech bubbles read almost like a graphic novel, making this a good choice for children who enjoy reading comics.

This article was published in School Library Journal's March 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Abby Johnson About Abby Johnson

Abby Johnson is the youth services manager at the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library in Southern Indiana. You can find her on the web at abbythelibrarian.com.

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