Posts Tagged ‘easy readers’
When Lulu, her parents, and her cousin, Mellie, spend a week in a cottage by the sea they discover an unexpected guest – the kind that walks on four legs.
A cute story that is designed to appeal to the large number of newer readers that love animals. Each of the characters has personality, and while the plot may be unlikely, the day to day discoveries and frustrations and interactions ring true.
It’s not the most spectacular writing, but it’s far from stilted, which is all too common in when books for this age group.
A biography of Sally Ride, written at about third grade level.
Unfortunately, this particular easy reader does all kinds of things that are common to easy readers that I hate, especially nonfiction easy readers.
The first is that it’s just not very well done. The sentences make sense, but they aren’t memorable either. The illustrations lack elegance and just don’t flow. Worse, the practice of using photographs, and then drawing images of Sally Ride into them rather undermines the idea that this is a real person. It’s also written in the first person, as if Ride herself was talking to us, despite the fact that Sally Ride was a real person who died recently and wrote words of her own that could be quoted.
It’s not so awful that I wouldn’t buy it for the library, especially considering the topic, but it’s the kind of book that makes me wish we had higher standards for beginning readers.
Piggie has a surprise for Gerald. The only problem is that it’s not ready yet, and waiting isn’t easy. But some surprises are worth waiting for.
Another wonderful Piggie and Elephant book from Mo Willems. I especially liked the way the word balloons grew so big that they became part of the action, rather than just text. And, of course, Willems’ ability to surprise us all with the unexpected, even when we know it’s coming.
Rainbow Fish was beautiful, too beautiful to play with the other fish. Only, now Rainbow fish is lonely. What will he do?
That first sentence up there is almost exactly what the first page says. Which tells you all you need to know about this book. I suspect that there’s more text in the picture book version of this story, and perhaps the extra words are an improvement. But yikes! I think the moral of the story was supposed to be about sharing or being considerate, instead the lesson seems to be that you should give away parts of your body so that people will like you.
“I have always loved the snow.” Page by page, a young bunny talks about all the things she loves about snow and winter.
I always have such high hopes for Wallace’s books; she’s done so many on the kinds of topics that make for great preschool themes. And yet…the text is always matter of fact, there’s no rhythm or elegance to it, and the illustrations are readable but lack inspiration or harmony. They’re always just serviceable enough, but never really well done.
Despite the page layouts being slightly busier than they ought to be for a board book, this is an excellent concept book for little ones. National Geographic’s stunning photographs are put to good use (badly photoshopped cover notwithstanding), as they always are. It also goes beyond the typical set up for such books; after each type of opposite is introduced in the traditional way (an image illustrating that particular pair, and the accompanying text) it doesn’t immediately move onto the next pair. Instead, the following pages then present a similar, but more complicated picture, as well as questions that invite parents and toddlers to have deeper conversations about the concept. The layouts on these pages could use some cleaning up, but they do an excellent job modeling for parents how to engage their children in dialog about the books they are reading.
I adore Joyce Wan’s You are My Cupcake and We Belong Together, so I was very excited to stumble across My Lucky Little Dragon on display at the bookstore. Just like the other two board books, My Lucky Little Dragon features a different endearment on each spread, this time focusing on the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Wan’s illustrations are just as adorable as always and full of personality. They also feature a variety of colors that pop! off the page, yet remain soft and almost pastel, rather than being limited to high contrast primary colors.
Just as the title says, this board book is about farm related words, consisting of illustrations and the names of various nouns included in the pictures. The illustrations themselves will likely delight it’s target audience, but the choice of font and words are questionable. It’s not an awful book, but there are much better books out there available for the same price.
If you recall, Hale is also the author/illustrator of Baby Giggles, which was cute, adorable, and well put together – but extremely homogenous, in terms of the kinds of babies being photographed. Baby Colors still treats white as the default, but manages to have closer to a quarter or third of the children pictured be children of color. The rhyming text works, although the colors being discussed aren’t always as prominent as they could be. Overall, a good book to have in the collection, despite it’s flaws.
A young boy and his even younger sister attempt to play hide and seek, but the younger sister doesn’t quite understand how to play.
For some strange reason I remember liking this book as a kid. Which makes me wonder about the overall quality of easy readers available at the time. To be fair, there is humor here, and it’s the kind of humor that your average seven year old with a younger (or older) sibling can relate to. The illustrations in particular haven’t aged well though, and it’s a meaner type of humor than, say, what readers find in the Piggie and Elephant books.
Piggie lucks out when he finds a ball to play with, until a big guy comes along and takes it from her! It’s not fair – and Gerald isn’t going to stand for it.
Twists aren’t exactly expected in easy readers, seeing as they’re both rather short and meant for five to seven year olds. But Willems manages to keep coming up with them anyway. The jokes too, of course, Piggie and Elephant are as hilarious here as they always are. Best of all, though, neither the jokes nor the twists are the kind that rely on making other people the punchline – nor are the “lessons” imparted the kind that are full of saccharine and false promises. Willems’ Piggie and Elephant books are simply funny and brilliant, and this one is no exception.
Ribbit! Piggie has turned into a frog! Gerald is shocked and amazed…and more than a little worried – will he turn into one too?
It’s the expressions on Piggie and Gerald’s faces, their movement and body language, that really make these books – this one in particular. This is definitely one of the better Elephant and Piggie books, which is saying a lot, considering there isn’t a bad one in the bunch.
Farmer Brown does not like Halloween. Instead of passing out candy himself, he turns out the lights and leaves the candy at the door. But Farmer Brown can’t ignore the crunch crunch crunching or the creak creak creaking or the tap tap tapping. What surprises lurk inside Farmer Brown’s barn?
This companion book to Cronin and Lewis’ award winning Click, Clack, Moo doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original book, but it’s clever and entertaining. The repetition and onomatopoeia will appeal to it’s intended audience. It should make a nice addition to families’ and libraries’ Halloween collections.
Kolten is having fun but typical day at the beach with his family when a robot appears out of the ocean! And not just any robot, Rip is one of the robots that lives under the sea and make the waves that come crashing to shore. Best of all, he’s here to show Kolton how they do it.
I wanted to like this story. It’s a cute idea – both the premise and the idea of chapter book level comics as a bridge between picture books and graphic novels. And the main character is delightlfully non-WASPy, which we desperately need more of in chapter books. But the story – the text, really – just didn’t flow and the there was absolutely no logic or substance to the fact that it’s robots that are making the waves.
I’m going to assume you all have read the original already (and if you haven’t, you need to – right now!) and so instead I’ll skip straight to analysis.
There are a few missteps in Larson’s adaptation; I’ve never been a huge fan of the faces she draws (Charles Wallace in particular looks creepy – long before he’s supposed to) and the panels are sometimes a bit text heavy, especially in the beginning.
That said, Larson totally gets Meg. She also kept all the right bits in and many of the panels are just absolutely perfect. Especially the first few pages and in the second half of the book, once the trio have made it to Camazotz and then later meet Aunt Beast.
Rabbit knows just where to get books on interesting topics: the library! But when he checks out a book about wolves, he may just get more than he bargained for.
Wolves invites readers to imagine what might happen if non-fiction books were a different kind of “real.” The sparse and straightforward text lets Gravett’s always excellent illustrations shine. The three different styles of art (graphite pencil sketches for the wolves, pastels for Rabbit, and photography for the book) all expertly reinforce both plot and theme.
Chameleon is blue. Or pink. Or yellow. Or brown. It all depends on who or what is nearby. But mostly, Chameleon is blue – because Chameleon is lonely.
The story structure is very similar to Lionni’s A Color of His Own, but Gravett’s illustrations and humor really makes this tale hers. Chameleon doesn’t merely wander from place to place, changing only colors, he works hard at becoming just like a snail, sock, or shoe. Making his new friendship at the end of the book not only comforting but triumphant.
This was the week we read about bears during preschool story time. Which led to me reading lots of (new to me) picture books about bears. And so week four Reading Round-up has been divided up into two parts.
Little Mouse has found a nice, red, ripe, yummy strawberry. But can Little Mouse keep the big, hungry bear from taking the strawberry for himself?
This book is definitely a (modern) classic, and it’s not just because it get kids giggling. The authors have managed to create a story that is clear and simple enough for very young children to follow, while telling it in a way that encourages analysis.
The text turns the reader into a character in the story: a narrator speaking to the small mouse. The mouse in turn answers not with words, but with actions shown in the illustrations. The basic story of a mouse scared of a bear is incredibly easy to figure out, but understanding all the small jokes requires that children see the cause and effect between the words and the illustrations. Also, that they think critically about the fact that the bear is never seen. This clever set up not only allows the story to work for a wide range of ages, it also provides children with much needed practice in comprehension and critical thinking.
And, of course, it’s funny and cute.
At night, Otto the Book Bear steps out of his book and plays and talks with all the other book characters. Until one day he goes off exploring and comes back only to discover that his book is gone! In a plot reminiscent of the many stories about lost, forgotten, or outgrown toys, Otto sets off in search of a new home – and finds it in a library.
This was one of my favorites among all the bear books I read recently that were new (to me); mostly for personal reasons that should be quite obvious. I haven’t yet read it aloud to the kids, but I expect it will work well, especially as the illustrations are cute, pleasant, and easy to see from a distance.
A circular story that will likely never become a classic (it doesn’t have quite enough personality) but is nevertheless a good, clever read with very pretty illustrations.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
My first introduction to this book was a former bookstore coworker complaining to me about how awful it is. Oh, silly adults with no sense of humor. * shakes head *
This book is brilliant. Even if you never ever ever read picture books, grab a copy to flip through next time you are in a bookstore with a children’s section. (It’s a recent award winner, so most stores should carry it – even Mysterious Galaxy had a copy on display last time I was there.) You will not regret it. I’m not going to ruin the punchline for you, but I do want to point out that the awards are in recognition of not only the clever plot and sublime yet distinct illustrations but also because of the way that the structure of the story is leveraged into repetitive yet far from boring text that works for newer readers. Also, Klassen’s use of space and color and repeating elements is just first class.
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
Sequel, of a sort, to I Want My Hat Back. Same humor and art style, similar set up – but different enough to make it interesting, equally brilliant, and also an award winner.
I Miss You Mouse by Greg Foley
Thank You Bear by Greg Foley
Make A Wish Bear by Greg Foley
Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley
These adorable books are perfect for toddlers and younger preschoolers. All four stories follow the same pattern of following Bear around as he interacts with the other animals, each exchange echoing all the others in both sentence structure and futility – until Bear meets up with mouse, who provides a solution. The art is nicely graphic and manages to be simplistic without looking flat.
I Miss You Mouse also has flaps and thicker pages, making it especially appropriate for the toddlers these books will appeal to most.