Best Transitional Chapter Books 2019 | SLJ Best Books

Nine superb titles made SLJ's list of must-have transitional chapter books. 


Transitional Chapter Books

Smell My Foot!

by Cece. Bell. illus. by author. Candlewick. ISBN 9780763679361.
PreS-Gr 3 –Geisel medalist Bell returns to the early reader world with a delightfully silly story about an unlikely duo. Brain is overconfident. Chick is unfailingly courteous. Brain wants Chick to smell his foot, which Chick staunchly refuses to do until Brain says the magic word. But when Chick is in danger of being eaten, will Brain come to the rescue? This playful title is a masterwork of miscommunication, a comedy of manners, and an ode to bad odor.


King & Kayla and the Case of Found Fred

by Dori Hillestad Butler. illus. by Nancy Meyers. Peachtree. ISBN 9781682630525.
Gr 2-4 –The Geisel Award-winning creators return with a lost dog mystery. Fred can sit. Fred can lie down. Fred can shake. But Fred can’t find his family. King and his human, Kayla, are on the case. They gather clues and hit the water in search of Fred’s family. Perfect for young mystery fans and dog lovers alike.


Yasmin in Charge

by Saadia Faruqi. illus. by Hatem Aly. Capstone/Picture Window. ISBN 9781515842729.
K-Gr 2 –Solving life’s problems with creativity and a can-do attitude is Yasmin’s M.O. In this collection of four short stories, Yasmin gets solvin’ at school, in the kitchen, at the zoo, and in her neighborhood. Whether she’s crafting a new recipe or rescuing a friend’s toy from peril, ingenuity is the name of her game. A Renaissance girl for contemporary times who young readers will love.


Snail and Worm: All Day

by Tina Kügler. illus. by author. HMH. ISBN 9780358063643.
Gr 1-4 –There’s nothing that draws in a reader quite like well-written dialogue. Humor doesn’t hurt, either. This third book in the series thrives on the back-and-forth of the titular duo. The effervescent themes of friendship, community, and empathy contained in these three tales will leave young readers amused and satisfied.


Juana & Lucas: Big Problemas

by Juana Medina. illus. by author. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536201314.
Gr 2-4 –Juana lives happily in Bogotá, Colombia, with her dog, Lucas, but struggles to orient herself when her widowed mother marries Luis. The gentle text with playful illustrations includes Spanish words and many details of Juana’s daily life, including her favorite foods, games, and family members. Children will enjoy a peek into Bogotá life while relating to Juana’s joys and fears, all depicted with honesty and humor.


Poof! A Bot!

by David Milgrim. illus. by author. Simon Spotlight. ISBN 9781534411036.
PreS-K –With a wave of his wand, Zip produces a little robot. Zip orders the bot to make him some mint tea, but gets a pie in the face instead. Can Zip zap this problem? Milgrim takes an intriguing premise and adds humor, surprise, and heart. With no more than 100 words of text, this addition to the “Ready To Go! Ready To Read” collection includes a note for parents, ample word repetition, and reading comprehension questions to build literacy skills.


Harold & Hog Pretend for Real!

by Dan Santat. illus. by author. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368027168.
PreS-Gr 3 –This entry in the “Elephant & Piggie Like Reading” series centers pretending and emulating someone you admire. Odd-couple pals Harold and Hog decide to engage in some Elephant and Piggie cosplay. But the fun turns to concern when the friends realize that they are not quite like their famous heroes. Not since We Are in a Book! has the “Elephant & Piggie” universe been so delightfully meta.


Charlie & Mouse: Even Better

by Laurel Snyder. illus. by Emily Hughes. Chronicle. ISBN 9781452170657.
Gr 1-4 –No other series captures the humor, beauty, and quirkiness of everyday family life better than Snyder’s “Charlie & Mouse.” With these endearing brothers, something as simple as making pancakes becomes a moment of comedy. This time around, the boys are preparing for Mom’s birthday. Lucky for readers, things do not go as planned, and hijinks ensue.


Who is the Mystery Reader?

by Mo Willems. illus. by author. Disney-Hyperion. ISBN 9781368046862.
Gr 1-3 –Zoom Squirrel is testing out some new superpowers with the help of an enigmatic masked reader—but will the squirrel team, and the reader, ever figure out who it is? This second book in the “Unlimited Squirrels” series bounces between stories, jokes, and facts—it’s a variety show in book form that will please squirrel-short attention spans everywhere.

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