Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction

Animal Planet chapter books: Nonfiction Nibbles for intermediate readers

Animal Planet Chapter Books: Bugs (Book #3), by James Buckley Jr. (June 2017, Liberty Street), $5.95, ISBN: 978-1-68330-756-3

Recommended for readers 6-10

A step up from early/easy reader animal facts books, Animal Planet chapter books (not the Animal Planet Adventures fiction/nonfiction series) are full-color, fully illustrated chapter books for intermediate readers. The first two in the series, Sharks and Dinosaurs, published in late 2016; Bugs and Snakes arrive this month.

Chapters are loaded with facts and photos of… well, bugs. There are three “Bug Bites” sections that take closer looks at bug bodies; extreme insects examines some of the crazy stats of the biggest, heaviest, longest bugs around, and we get a deeper look at the roles of an ant farm’s inhabitants. There are callout facts throughout the chapters, and an “In Your Newsfeed” section updates readers on breaking news in the field. For instance, did you know that researchers are looking into sticky caddis flies to develop new bandages for humans? You do now! Fact Files go further in-depth on insect biology; topics include how insects walk using three legs at a time, with the other three balancing, and special modifications some insects have for survival.

I’m always on the lookout for good, intermediate-level nonfiction and series nonfiction. This fits the bill nicely.





Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

A new heroine rises: Gum Girl!

gumgirl_2Gum Girl: Chews Your Destiny (The Gumazing Gum Girl #1), by Rhode Montijo, (Aug. 2013, Disney-Hyperion), $14.99, ISBN: 9781423157403

Recommended for ages 6-10

Gabby Gomez LOVES bubble gum. She will chew it any time, anywhere, much to her mother (and dentist father!)’s chagrin. Gabby also gets her gum all over everything, which makes a huge mess! Gabby’s mom lays down the law and tells her NO MORE GUM, which really doesn’t work for Gabby, who sneaks a little piece on the way to school one day. What’s one little piece, right? She blows a bubble – the biggest bubble EVER – and it pops all over her! How is she supposed to go to school, looking like this? But wait! Someone needs help! Gabby answers the call, and discovers that she’s been transformed into The Gumazing Gum Girl, a superheroine with super sticky, super stretchy, bubble gum powers! Now, she just needs to keep enough peanut butter on hand to help her get all the gum off and transform back into Gabby, before her family finds out!


The Gumazing Gum Girl is too much fun! She’s a superhero for intermediate and middle grade readers, adorably written and drawn by Rhode Montijo, who creates a graphic novel/chapter book hybrid that kids love. Kids will love her Latinx family, who lovingly speak Spanglish to one another, and they’ll love how the seemingly ordinary power of bubble gum transforms a girl into a superheroine. Plus, they’ll see that Gabby is a good kid, who struggles with keeping a secret from her parents: her superpowers come from her breaking the rules and chewing gum. There are fun villains and the art is super kid-friendly; combinations of pink, black and white, with bold lines and expressive fonts will catch and hold any reader’s attention.

When I was at ALA Midwinter last month, I found myself lucky enough to get hold of the NEXT Gum Girl Adventure: Gum Luck! A colleague shrieked when she saw me with it (and she does collection development for my library system, so, whoo hoo!), and another colleague read it the day I got back to the library after Midwinter. To say this is an anticipated sequel is putting it mildly.

gumgirl_1The Gumazing Gum Girl: Gum Luck (The Gumazing Gum Girl #2, by Rhode Montijo, June 2017, Disney-Hyperion, $14.99, ISBN: 9781423161172) introduces readers to a new villain, and readers will see Gabby continue struggling with her big secret. She’s torn between doing the right thing by telling her parents the truth about her alter ego and her gum-chewing habit and between… well, doing the right thing with her superhero activities.

If readers love Chews Your Destiny, they’ll love Gum Luck. Start booktalking Gum Girl now, and get them ready: Gum Luck hits shelves in June, just in time for summer reading! (Hmm… the theme for CSLP’s Summer Reading is Build a Better World… can we use gum for that? Wait, no… not in the library. Please.)

Visit Rhode Montijo’s author webpage for more info about his books, a peek at his portfolio, and his web store.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Realistic Fiction

Is Jasper John Dooley Public Library Enemy #1?

jasper john dooleyJasper John Dooley: Public Library Enemy #1, by Caroline Adderson/Illustrated by Mike Shiell (Apr. 2016, Kids Can Press), $15.95, ISBN: 9781771380157

Recommended for ages 7-10

Poor Jasper! He borrowed a book from the library, so he could practice reading. He wanted his skills to be sharp when it was his turn to sit on the big, comfy chair at the library and read to Molly the dog, that’s all! But Jasper accidentally dropped the book in the tub and drowned it, and THEN, his father set it on fire by trying to dry it in the stove. And THEN, he shot it with a fire extinguisher! Now, Jasper and his dad are Book Killers, and he’s terrified that he owes the library $2500 for the book! How can he raise that much money before Wednesday, when it’s his turn to read to Molly?

This is the sixth book in the Jasper John Dooley early chapter book series, and it’s adorable; great for young readers who are ready to advance from Easy Readers to chapter books. Jasper is very likable, and his reasoning will click with readers: his mom reads in the bathtub, so it should be easy, right? He misjudges a decimal point when trying to determine the price of the book he needs to replace, and comes up with $2500 instead of $25. He feels huge responsibility for the library book in his care, which provides opportunities for discussion about responsibility and taking care of others’ belongings, as well as realizing that everyone makes mistakes – even parents – and that, yes, accidents happen.

This is the first Jasper John Dooley book I’ve ever read, but I would like to get these on my library’s shelves, because they’re great reading. Like most series fiction for emerging and newly independent readers, you don’t need to read from book one to pick up the series; they’re independent stories with characters that you’ll get to know right away. Black and white llustrations add to the enjoyment of the story. You can easily have a read-aloud with this book: classes will get a kick out of it! Good role models, sweet humor based on misunderstanding, solid discussion points make this a good addition to your series collections.

Learn more about the Jasper John Dooley series on the Kids Can Press webpage.

Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Fiction, Humor, Intermediate, Science Fiction, Uncategorized

Finally! Ricky Ricotta and the Naughty Nightcrawlers from Neptune!

ricky ricottaRicky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Naughty Nightcrawlers from Neptune, by Dav Pilkey/Illustrated by Dan Santat (Jan. 2016, Scholastic), $5.99, ISBN: 9780545631440

Recommended for ages 5-10

FINALLY, the last two books in the Ricky Ricotta series are here! You don’t understand; about a decade ago, my son – now a junior in high school – devoured the first seven Ricky Ricotta books. He loved them. I loved them. And then, there was nothing. We were down two planets! We waited. We watched. We hoped. We saw new Captain Underpants books hit the shelves, but Ricky remained silent. And then, a glimmer of hope: the entire line of existing Ricky Ricotta adventures were re-released, with Dan Santat’s amazing and colorful art taking the whole series up a notch. I ordered two sets for my library and booktalked this series like my rent depended on it (which, kinda, it does).

VINDICATION! In January, we got Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot and the Naughty Nightcrawlers from Neptune! Patience pays off!

Ricky and Robot are finally back, and trying to think of something fun to do that won’t cause a giant mess. They find an old building that they can use material from to make a giant fort, and it looks like they’re going to have a great, stress-free day after all. Nah, just kidding: grumpy Farmer Feta next door is annoyed about the noise the two friends are making, and lets the evil Neptunian scientist, Nimrod Nightcrawler, use his property to dig a tunnel over to Ricky’s property to wipe them out! With some help from Ricky’s cousin, Lucy, and the now-tame Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter, Ricky and Robot have to save the day again.

The adventure is laid out like the other Ricky adventures, with Dan Santat’s art really rebooting this whole series. He’s managed to leave in the most fun part of the books, though: the Flip-O-Rama fight sequence, where readers can flip the right hand page back and forth to make the picture look animated (and add their own sound effects). Nimrod ends up in jail with the seven previous bad guys, and we see one more cell waiting…

My son now considers himself too old for Ricky Ricotta. I, however, am just the right age; I’m also a completist – how could I not finish the series? I had a great time reading this book and revisiting a series that I enjoyed then and I still chuckle at now. Kids are drawn to Dan Santat’s art, and when I tell them that the same artist write and drew Sidekicks AND Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, they’re even more excited, because they love seeing how they can recognize his art and yet spot the subtle differences in a picture book, graphic novel, and a chapter book.

Bottom line: this is a great series for libraries and collections. If you’re familiar with the series, you’ll love it; if you’re not, and you like fun humor with over the top robot fights and villains, you’ll love it.

Be on the lookout for Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. The Unpleasant Penguins from Pluto in May!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Uncategorized

Olga da Polga – a favorite classic comes to Kane Publishing!

olgaOlga da Polga, by Michael Bond/Illustrated by Catherine Rayner (Oct. 2015, Kane Miller Publishing), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-61067-433-1

Recommended for ages 6-10

The creator of Paddington Bear, Michael Bond, introduced Olga da Polga, an adventurous guinea pig with a bit of sass, in 1971. I don’t remember this book when I was growing up, so I’m not sure whether these were originally published only in the UK, but there are both picture and chapter books full of Olga’s Adventures! Kane Miller Publishing recently brought Olga back to readers with this beautifully illustrated edition. Greenaway Medal winner Catherine Rayner adds beautiful watercolor artwork to this collection of stories that new readers and their parents will love and want on their shelves.

Olga da Polga is a guinea pig who wants to go on adventures. She wants out of the pet store! She gets her wish when she’s adopted by the Sawdust family – that’s what she calls humans – who builds her a her own hamster run in their garden. She goes on adventures in the family’s backyard and meets the local wildlife, including Noel the housecat, Fangio the hedgehog, and Graham, the tortoise. Stories encompass all the seasons, also lending themselves to great seasonal storytimes.

Olga da Polga is one of those books that I feel like I missed out on, and that I need to get on the shelves here at my library to make sure today’s kids meet Olga and her friends! Give this to kids who love their animal fiction – Paddington fans, naturally; Olivia fans, and Corduroy fans can move up to Olga da Polga and enjoy another group of stories about a plucky little guinea pig and her adventures. Kids reading the EB White trilogy (Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swan) will love Olga, too. The short chapters/stories provide for great read-aloud opportunities.

You can get your own copy of Olga da Polga at the Usborne books website. Amazon offers the book through independent sellers.


Posted in Early Reader, Fiction

Olive & Beatrix – a fun Easy Reader chapter series!

9780545814805_30853The Not-So Itty-Bitty Spiders (Olive & Beatrix #1),by Amy Marie Stadelmann (Aug. 2015, Scholastic), $4.99, ISBN:9780545814805

Recommended for ages 5-8

Olive and Beatrix are twin sisters, but they’ve got one thing that makes them very different – Beatrix is a witch, and Olive is more of a scientist. To get back at prankster Beatrix, Olive and her best friend, Eddie try to play a prank on Beatrix involving spiders, which backfires in a BIG way!

This is a fun, new Easy Reader chapter book series; part of Scholastic’s Branches line for newly independent readers. There are bright, colorful pictures on every page, bold, easy to read text, and an interesting, fast-paced story loaded with excitement and humor. There are even discussion questions at the end fo the book, to spur some conversation. Scholastic is offering a nice PDF excerpt of Olive & Beatrix on their Branches website, so you can check it out for yourself before you buy.

I really like the Branches books. I’ve got a few of the series on my library shelves, including Eerie Elementary, The Notebook of Doom, and Lotus Lane. The kids love them, and the fact that they’re easy chapter books really helps bridge that Easy Reader-Intermediate gap I sometimes find my readers experiencing. Plus, I’ve got kids coming in, younger and younger, asking for “spooky stories”. This will be a big addition to my Easy Reader shelves for those brave little readers!

This is the first series for author Amy Marie Stadelmann, but she’s got a great resume – she works on Nick Jr. preschool programming! She’s worked on shows like The Wonder Pets and Team Umizoomi, so she knows what kids like and she knows how important learning and literacy is. Check out her author website for a look at her illustration portfolio.