Last April, I read a TON of beginning chapter books. So, for your delectation, I have tidied together all their read snaps and squooshed them into one handy post and here they are, both good and bad!
- Violet Bing and the Grand House by Jennifer Paros. Probably a helpful manual for mild agrophobics but it's a very strange writing style and I can't really see it appealing to kids.
- Squirrel's World by Lisa Moser. Squirrel's exuberant hyperactivity and helpful disasters will resonate with kids who are always being told to calm down - and their parents. Perfect characterization, great dialogue!
- Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles by Rupert Kingfisher. This sweet beginning chapter book is a bit of a Babette's Feast for the younger crowd. Readers will enjoy the fantasy elements of the magical cat and the strange and exotic foods of Madame Pamplemousse - and will cheer when Madeleine wins out over her beastly uncle.
- One Beastly Beast (Two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales) by Garth Nix. My favorite of these was the first, BlackBread the Pirate. The wimpy sailor rats, the hero's wafflings, and the silly and outrageous plot were quite amusing. The other three stories felt rather contrived.
- You're a Bad Man, Mr. Gum by Andy Stanton. A cross between Lemony Snicket and something I can't quite think of at the moment. Far too rambling and too many inconsequential details and miscellaneous asides for my taste, but I can see some kids finding it hilarious. The audiobook was funnier and I recommend it more than the book.
- Bad Luck Chair by Sue Wilkowski. Spot-on portrayal of elementary kids' little superstitions and daily trials.
- The Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great by Gerald Morris. All I'll say is that it involves shiny armor, love-sick ladies, and afternoon naps....first in the Knights' Tales series by Gerald Morris. Not to be read while drinking milk.
- The Boy Who Sprouted Antlers by John Yeoman. So, you know how teachers and other well-meaning people are always telling kids they can do anything if they just work hard enough...live up to your potential....and so on and so on? Well, this little boy TOTALLY BELIEVES his teacher. But while her idea of doing anything he wants if he just works hard enough is improving his schoolwork (specifically his basket-weaving in art)....He's got something a little more interesting in mind. Yeoman's characterization is absolutely perfect - I can completely see kids talking like his characters! I laughed and laughed and laughed. Never mind the publisher's blurb on the back saying it's a book about "being different." Nope, this is a totally wacky book that's just FUNNY. And what more do you need?
- If you are a fan, as am I, of Krista Ruepp and Ulrike Heyne's lovely horse picturebooks, featuring a small Icelandic girl and her beloved pony, you will want to do some digging for their beginning chapter book series! The stories are simple but elegant, showing the characters' unique personalities and love of their island home in every line. The pictures, as always, are marvelous, the horses' wild manes and frothy waves showing the harsh but exuberant life of these northern islanders. These lovely stories are perfect for the young horse-lover as well as fans of Bodil Bredsdorff. Titles include: Horses in the Fog, The Sea Pony, and Midnight Rider.