February 19, 2018

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Chapter Books: Mysteries, Friendship, and Invisible Cats | May 2017 Xpress Reviews

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1704-Xpress-CB-Butler-King-KaylaButler, Dori Hillestad. King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats. ISBN 9781561458776.

––––. King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code. ISBN 9781561458783.

ea vol: illus. by Nancy Meyers. 48p. (King & Kayla). Peachtree. Mar. 2017. Tr $14.95.

Gr 1-2 –King and Kayla are solving mysteries for a younger generation in this prequel to Butler’s “The Buddy Files” series. The stories are told from the perspective of King, a golden retriever with a nose for solving mysteries. In the Case of the Missing Dog Treats, three treats go missing and Kayla suspects King. Innocent King knows that an intruder has snuck in and must be found out. Is the real culprit Thor, Jillian’s new puppy? Or is it Adam, Jillian’s brother? Or someone else altogether? In the Case of the Secret Code, Kayla receives a strange letter on her doorstep that she cannot read. King smells oatmeal on the letter and knows only of one person who smells like oatmeal. Kayla and her friend Mason work to decipher the secret code, while King keeps trying, unsuccessfully, to tell them he knows who sent the letter. This new series features colorful illustrations and accessible tales told in short, simple sentences. It’s a perfect option for newly independent readers ready to start transitioning from easy readers to beginning chapter books. VERDICT Transitional readers are always in demand, and this series is a worthy contribution to any collection serving brand-new readers.–Lisa Nabel, Tacoma Public Library, WA

1704-Xpress-CB-Cheng-TheYearoftheGardenredstarCheng, Andrea. The Year of the Garden. illus. by Patrice Barton. 128p. HMH. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780544664449.

Gr 2-5 –In this satisfying prequel to The Year of the Book, Anna and her family have moved from an apartment to a house, meaning she will begin third grade at a new school. Before long, she meets Laura, also new to the neighborhood and eager to make new friends. The seeds of their tumultuous friendship are sown as they work together on a vegetable garden in Anna’s backyard, inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Readers will greatly enjoy seeing familiar characters appear in this book. Anna’s mother is still working to improve her English, and family friend Mrs. Shepherd (deceased at the beginning of The Year of the Book) gives Anna seeds, tools, and advice for working in the garden. From a class lesson on recycling to the rescue of an orphaned rabbit, themes of renewal and “the circle of life” are woven throughout. Barton’s wispy illustrations, as always, echo Anna’s sensitive nature and understanding of the world around her. VERDICT Appealing both to transitional and fluent readers, this thoughtful prequel offers further insights into Anna’s world for those returning to it, while creating a compelling story for those just discovering it.–Katherine Barr, Cameron Village Regional Library, Raleigh, NC

1704-Xpress-CB-Jones-SquishyMcFluffJones, Pip. The Invisible Cat! Bk. 1. ISBN 9780571302505.

––––. Supermarket Sweep! Bk. 2. ISBN 9780571302529.

ea vol: illus. by Ella Okstad. 80p. (Squishy McFluff). Faber & Faber. Apr. 2017. pap. $8.95.

K-Gr 2 –These charming British imports introduce children to Ava and her invisible cat, the adorable Squishy McFluff. The first book tells the story of Ava playing outside and “finding” the cat in the vegetable garden. The two play happily together, and Ava brings Squishy home and introduces him to her mother. Mummy plays along at first, pretending to see the cat, until Squishy’s antics get out of control. Mummy tries to get rid of Squishy but to no avail. Eventually, Ava assures her mother that Squishy will learn to behave, and Mummy agrees to let him stay. In the second book, Squishy’s exploits continue, this time at the grocery story—to Mummy’s great consternation. Children will giggle at Squishy’s misadventures and want to read more. VERDICT Rhyming text and simple, three-color illustrations make this a thumbs-up choice for early chapter readers.–Kathy Kirchoefer, Henderson County Public Library, NC

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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