While often graded for younger readers, early-reader books occupy that critical middle ground between picture books and middle-grade novels, ideal for readers either moving ahead or catching up.
2017. 96p. illus. DK, paper, $3.99 (9781465457684); lib. ed., $14.99 (9781465458179).
920. Gr. 3–5.
When young readers think of the world’s most formative historical
leaders, scientists, and athletes, they probably do not picture women
like Wilma Rudolph, Sally Ride, and Florence Nightingale. In seven
thematic chapters, some of the most influential women from both
past and present are chronicled here in brief biographical sketches.
Per DK’s revised, tiered levels, this reader is suitable for students
who are confident reading independently, and it provides plenty of
contextual support for synthesizing nonfiction text, such as colorful graphics, questions that check for understanding, time lines, and
sidebars. The subjects of the book represent a great diversity in time,
place, and area of influence, but all of them demonstrate that one
person, regardless of gender or social standing, can make a tremendous positive impact on the world around them. —Erin Anderson
Andy & Sandy and the Big Talent Show.
By Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis. Illus. by Tomie dePaola.
June 2017. 32p. Simon & Schuster, $8.99 (9781481479479); e-book, $8.99
(9781481479486). PreS–Gr. 1.
The latest Andy & Sandy entry finds Sandy eager to enter the school
talent show. Andy’s less convinced; he can’t juggle, tumble, Hula-Hoop, or dance. “You just have to practice,” Sandy insists, and so they
do. But at the performance, Sandy develops severe stage fright, leaving
poor Andy to sashay through their dance number almost solo, until
he is finally able to persuade Sandy to follow his lead. The story reinforces the idea that different qualities (Sandy is confident, while Andy
is more reserved) are often necessary for success in friendship and in
life. Simple, predictable text combines with dePaola’s sunny, upbeat art
to create an early reader that should have wide appeal. The wordless
spreads of the dance itself are priceless, and would-be thespians will
enjoy the informative endpapers. —Kay Weisman
By Nancy Krulik. Illus. by Louis Thomas.
May 2017. 96p. Grosset & Dunlap, paper, $5.99 (9780448490120); lib. ed., $15.99
(9780448490137). Gr. 1–3.
Zeke, his parents, and Zeus (their spaceship commander cat) are from
Planet Z, but their spaceship has just crashed on Earth. The family
moves into an empty house, and Zeus tells Zeke he must go to school
and act like a normal earthling child. Meanwhile, the junk man has
taken their spaceship, and the family must find a way to buy it back.
This is the first book of the Kid from Planet Z series for young readers,
and Krulik gives her characters exaggerated outer-space characteristics,
despite their efforts to adapt to life on Earth. Children will chuckle their
way through this easy chapter book and delight in Thomas’ humorous,
blue-toned illustrations. It looks like Zeke and his family will be on
Earth for a while, so expect more adventures to come. —J. B. Petty
Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins.
By Johanna Hurwitz. Illus. by Tuesday Mourning.
Apr. 2017. 80p. Candlewick, $14.99 (9780763688080). Gr. 1–3.
In this winning sequel to The Two and Only Kelly Twins (2013), identical twins Arlene and Ilene learn that it’s OK to be different. From
their short, brown pigtails and matching red glasses to their shared
friends and hobbies, the sisters are alike in almost every way—and
next to impossible to tell apart. Faced with several unexpected situations (good and bad), the twins learn that they can branch out from
each other, whether by changing their personal style or doing things
separately. Accessible text and frequent illustrations (artwork not seen)
make this a friendly pick for young readers tackling their first chapter
books. Themes of identity and self-discovery join amiable characters
reminiscent of Clementine, Ivy, and Bean, making this a solid addition
to early-chapter-book collections. —Sarah Bean Thompson
The Escapades of Clint McCool: Octo-Man and the Headless
By Jane Kelley. Illus. by Jessika von Innerebner.
May 2017. 96p. Grosset & Dunlap, paper, $5.99 (9780448487533). Gr. 1–3.
Walter, aka Clint McCool, is a fountain of ideas. One afternoon,
while walking home from school, Clint encounters Octo-Man on the
set of a new movie. Clint’s so excited that he accidentally damages
Octo-Man’s costume and gets kicked off the set, but Clint can’t stop
thinking how to improve the movie. After a number of failed ideas,
the director offers Clint a part—just not the kind he was envisioning.
Relatable, likable Clint, who rapidly bounces from one scheme to another, could be a great model for readers who struggle with focus, as he
learns that sometimes it is better to be the boss of one idea at a time.
Von Innerebner’s blue-and-white illustrations help illustrate the humor
of Clint’s escapades. This quirky, fast-paced series starter should easily
get kids laughing. —Lindsey Tomsu
Long, Tall Lincoln.
By Jennifer Dussling. Illus. by Chin Ko.
June 2017. 32p. Harper, $16.99 (9780062432568). 973.7092. Gr. 1–3.
According to this colorful book for beginning readers, Abraham
Lincoln wasn’t rich like other presidents, nor did he look or act like
previous presidents, but he “acted the right way for the country.” In
short sentences and simple words, Dussling traces Lincoln’s life from
childhood to the end of the Civil War. Well-chosen anecdotes and
quotes support the narrative. While the simplification of complex
ideas and events can be problematic, particularly for kids with little
knowledge of history, the text provides an informative introduction to
Lincoln. Ko’s nicely composed digital artwork illustrates the narrative
Early Reader Roundup