April 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Stellar Beginning Chapter Books for Young Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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Violet Mackerel and friend Rose, along with Monkey and Robot, are back with some amusing tales for young readers. Joining them is John Himmelman’s Bunjitsu Bunny, which packs a punch but also features tales that warm the heart. Abby Hanlon presents Dory, a charmingly irresistible girl named Dory. Renowned author Cornelia Funke introduces Emma and Tristan who journey on a magic carpet to save a genie. Add these wonderful new selections chosen by the editors at Junior Library Guild to feed the reading appetites of those learning to read on their own.

Violet MackerelBRANFORD, Anna. Violet Mackerel’s Pocket Protest. illus. by Elanna Allen. 128p. S. & S./Atheneum. 2014. ISBN 9781442494589. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

The big oak tree that has sheltered Violet and her friend Rose for years is scheduled to be cut down. The park where they have spent many afternoons playing will be turned into a parking lot. Where will the birds make their nests? And what about the squirrel? Putting their heads together, the two girls come up with a plan.

Author Branford does more than write about small things—she makes them. Read more about her on her website. Illustrator Allen lives in New York with her family, where she also designs characters for television. Read about her on her website. On their publisher’s site, you’ll find a sample of their latest collaboration.

Monkey and RobotCATALANOTTO, Peter. More of Monkey & Robot. illus. by author. 64p. S. & S./Atheneum. 2014. ISBN 9781442452510. JLG Level: E+ : Easy Reading (Grades 1–3).

Monkey and Robot are back with four new hilarious stories for independent readers. From Halloween costumes to tire swings, Monkey’s ideas are always unexpected. Robot remains his best friend, keeping him out of trouble and on a somewhat straight path.

For more on Catalanotto’s work, check out his website. If you’re considering him for an author visit, workshop, or staff development, you can find contact information and testimonials on his site. His name is easier to say than it looks. Find out how at TeachingBooks.net. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Read an excerpt at Simon & Schuster.

Emma and the Blue GenieFUNKE, Cornelia. Emma and the Blue Genie. illus. by Kerstin Meyer. 96p. Random. ISBN 9780385375429. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Emma lives by the sea but dreams of a land where people ride camels, palm trees sway, and there are no brothers. One night she and her dog Tristan are sitting in the moonlight when a bottle washes up. Would something bad happen if she opens it?

Listen to Funke pronounce her name at TeachingBooks.net. A visit to the author’s website is quite delightful. The homepage appears to be her living room. Guests click on animated objects that lead them to information. Fans can post pictures and stories, as well as sign the guestbook. Just for fun, click on the fireplace. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Dory FantasmagoryHANLON, Abby. Dory Fantasmagory. 160p. Dial. 2014. ISBN 9780803740884. JLG Level: I : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

Dory is the baby of the family. Between her temper tantrums and her active imagination, her family is at their wit’s end. Her older sister Violet and brother Luke decide to trick her into behaving. “Mrs. Gobble Gracker is a robber, and she steals baby girls…she’s been looking for you,” they tell her. Lucky for us, the plan backfires, providing comical adventures for kids.

Read more about Dory and Hanlon’s other characters on her website where you’ll find many more charming illustrations. Don’t miss Betsy Bird’s glowing review on her blog.

Tales of Bunjitsu BunnyHIMMELMAN, John. Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny. illus. by author. 128p. Holt. 2014. ISBN 9780805099706. JLG Level: E : Easy Reading (Grades 1-3).

Isabel is the best bunjitsu artist in her school, but, as she says, “bunjitsu is not just about kicking, hitting, and throwing….It is about finding ways NOT to kick, hit, and throw.” Outsmarting bullying pirates, learning lessons from Lucky Cricket, and even conquering a wave, the young bunny encounters many opportunities to exercise what she’s learned.

Himmelman co-runs a martial arts school, where he found the inspiration for his characters. Find out more about the author/illustrator by visiting his website. Like his Facebook profile. Read an excerpt at Macmillan.

EllRay Jakes WARNER, Sally. EllRay Jakes Rocks the Holidays! illus. by Brian Biggs. 160p. Viking. 2014. ISBN 9780451469090. JLG Level: I+ : Independent Readers (Grades 2–4).

EllRay didn’t mean to, but somehow he did something that made Kevin mad. Now he has carry out three challenges that prove they are still friends. Then EllRay is chosen to emcee the school’s winter program, but he’s just an ordinary kid. How is he supposed to be good for the community when he can’t even be there for his friend?

A visit to the author’s website reveals a scrapbook with pictures of her as a kid. Kids can even send an email. Read about her favorite books and the answers to other questions in Deborah Kalb’s interview.

Additional Resources

The resources for the above titles have been organized in JLG Booktalks to Go: Fall 2014 LiveBinder. Titles are sorted by interest level, PreK-3, 3-6, 5-8, and YA. Check out our award-winning Spring 2014 LiveBinder which organizes resources for spring releases. All websites are posted within each LiveBinder, along with the accompanying booktalk. As I write more columns, more books and their resources are added. Everything you need to teach or share brand new, hot-off-the-press books is now all in one place. Booktalks and resources are also included on JLG’s BTG Pinterest board.

For library resources, tips, and ideas, please visit JLG’s Shelf Life Blog.

Junior Library Guild (JLG) is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com. (NOTE: JLG is owned by Media Source, Inc., SLJ’s parent company.)





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Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.



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