Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Thanks to Jen at TeachMentorText  and Kellee at UnleashingReaders for the weekly meme highlighting children's literature - picture books to young adult.  Don't forget to visit her site so you can see what everyone else is reading this week!

The book images are linked to Goodreads, so you can get a complete summary and easily add it to your books to read list!

This week I have focused on a few books that fall into the transitional, early reader category.  In my library and many bookstores they are often referred to as Easy readers, but please don't use that term with my second graders!  I have made the mistake of labeling a basket of books in my class with the term "Easy Readers", only to find that students avoided that basket like the plague!  So, now we call them beginning chapter books - that's more enticing!  I am always looking for more series books that fall into this category.


Joe and Sparky, Superstars! by Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz

This is a great little series that currently includes 3 books.  Joe and Sparky are a perfect partnership for adventure, fun and silliness.  Joe, is the more adventurous of the two, while Sparky, is the more careful and safety minded turtle.  In this book Joe helps Sparky find his special talent.  I particularly liked the chapter titled, 'The Dance Lesson' where Joe tries to teach Sparky the Hokey Pokey.  I think my students will laugh at the story, but also be able to dig a little deeper and relate to the themes of friendship and being yourself.

Bink & Gollie, Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile

This is the third book in this wonderful series about 2 friends and their adventures.  The books are perfect early readers because each chapter is a separate story.  There is some (just a few) advanced vocabulary that beginning readers may struggle with - so be aware if students are reading independently.  You may need to highlight the words ahead of time.  The books are smart and clever - and so are the characters - something that I enjoy seeing in a transitional early chapter book.  And I love that they roller skate where ever they go!

Boris on the Move by Andrew Joyner

Boris, the little warthog, and his family live in a camper that his parents formally used to tour the world.  Boris yearns to have his own adventures beyond his little yard.  One day his parents decide to drive the van to a new adventure.  Boris is excited at first, but soon finds himself lost.  Boris learns that he doesn't have to go far from home to have an adventure.  Young readers will be able to relate to little Boris and his troubles.  The book includes an introduction, 7 short chapters and a section at the end to show readers how to make a compass.  The book has a graphic novel feel to it, with lots of speech bubbles and short text to accompany each illustration.

This new series published by Scholastic is part of a new line of books called Branches, books for independent readers that aren't quite ready for traditional chapter books.  I definitely think there is a gap between transitional early chapter books and longer chapter books like Magic Tree House books for my second grade readers.  I hope that the Branches line of books will be able to fill this gap.  I plan to read more of them before I give them my stamp of approval.


My Haunted House (Araminta Spookie #1) by Angie Sage and illustrated by Jimmie Pickering

 I was not sure if I was going to like the book during the first chapter or two - but I soon got into the story and quickly finished the entire novel in an evening.  Araminta lives with her aunt and uncle in a huge, old haunted house.  She has always wanted to  meet a ghost, and finally gets the chance when her Aunt Tabby decides to sell the house.  Araminta devises several plans to try to derail the sale of the house.  The story has a cute ending too.  This is a great fantasy for more advanced elementary readers.  It is advertised for grades 3- 5, but I think second grade readers that have lots of experience with longer chapter books will also enjoy the book.  Fans of Franny K. Stein will love Araminta - she loves spiders, ghosts and bats.  It is the first book in a series, but it stands alone and has no cliffhanger.


Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg and illustrated by Matthew Cordell

I have had this books on my list for awhile, and finally found it at my library. What a heartwarming book!  Eleanor learns that her babysitter will be moving away and she is so unhappy.  Julie Sternberg does such a wonderful job telling the story of how Eleanor mourns the loss of her beloved babysitter and comes to terms with this big life change.  A very realistic growing up story that I know my second graders will relate to.  I plan on either adding this book to my read aloud list or including it as a book club/guided reading selection for my more advanced readers.  I can also imagine writing about other events that could be like "pickle juice on a cookie".  Great read aloud for Grades 2 - 4.  Independent readers grade 2 - 5 will enjoy also.  It's a shorter chapter book, barely over 100 pages.

What are you reading this week?  Do you have any transitional early chapter books that you could recommend?


  1. We really enjoyed the first Bink and Gollie, so looking forward to the next one. The Like Pickle.. looks like a great read. Will look for it at the library.

  2. I adore Bink and Gollie! I've been wanting to read Like Pickle Juice On a Cookie for awhile, it sounds great! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

  3. Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie...With that title, I need to buy it. So clever! I loved reading your review about it, too. Thanks for sharing and happy reading this week!

  4. I love Bink and gollie! I would also recommend Rabbit and Robot and one of my favorites - Sadie and Ratz. The Penny books by Henkes are great too. Ling and Ting by Grace Lin is another.

  5. Thanks Crystal! I just bought Rabbit sand Robot. And on a recent trip to Portland I stopped at Powells Books and purchased the Penny books and Ling and Ting.