Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Read Scary: Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season by Jessie Haas, illustrated by Alison Friend

I looked at the first Bramble and Maggie waaaaay back in 2012. Many changes have happened - I moved Bramble and Maggie to the chapter books, as I felt they fit better as a beginning chapter book than an easy reader. Several more books have been published.

But their essentially fun, practical friendship remains. This latest book is just perfect for the crisp fall weather (well, if you live in the Midwest). Bramble and Maggie, like an easy reader, is divided into three simple chapters, each a separate story. However, the chapters are all connected, similar to a chapter book. In this spooky fall installment, Bramble is feeling her oats and enjoying the fall weather, so she gets jumpy and pretending to be spooked. But then she sees something really scary - a scarecrow! In the second chapter, the following day, Bramble is still enjoying her pretend-spooks, which makes Maggie nervous. When Bramble gets a real scare, something bad happens - Maggie falls off! Fortunately, Bramble helps her best friend get back in the saddle, even though now Maggie is the one who's spooked. Finally, the two try out trick-or-treating, first choosing a costume and then enjoying the spooky delights of the neighborhood at night. Bramble is scared, but determined to take care of Maggie, who's still feeling a little shaky. There are plenty of treats for everyone and no tricks!

The text and illustrations are smoothly integrated, with Alison Friend's cheerful colors and round-faced people fleshing out the simple story. The pictures not only assist in decoding the text, but add a humorous element to the plot, especially in the last story, where Bramble, pop-eyed with fear but determined to protect Maggie faces off against a "ghost".

The book has a slightly larger format, closer to an easy reader, than a chapter book. Although it has the shorter sentences and simpler language of an easy reader, there are some more advanced vocabulary words and paragraph structure. A great choice for intermediate readers and a step up for fans of Kate and Cocoa, another horse and girl series.

Verdict: This is a fun addition to a great series. If you don't already have the whole series, consider adding it to your beginning chapter books for kids just starting to pick up longer books. If you already have the series, don't miss out on this latest title!

ISBN: 9780763664503; Published 2014 by Candlewick; ARC provided by publicist; Purchased for the library

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