Saturday, November 1, 2008

First Chapter Books

One of the most exciting times in any one's life (and equally fun to observe over and over) is when the ability to read takes hold and the wonderful world of literature suddenly opens itself. Ever since Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat there have been special books just for those readers who are just beginning to be able to read to themselves. There are increasing numbers of really good stories that fall into this category. Older readers still look for these books and remember them with great fondness. I read new ones eagerly and laugh at the jokes as hard as I would have over fifty years ago when I was just learning to read.

Here are some good titles to consider at the library or at Emerson's Book Fair on November 9.

Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel is the second in a series about a cat who can be pretty bad. In this book, advice is given on bathing a cat who absolutely does not want anything to do with soap and water. The humor and the cartoon-like drawings are a guarantee that folks of all ages will like this book.

Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm and Jennifer Holm is a favorite with girls (and a few boys brave enough to overlook the ever-present pink) who are just learning to read and those who are confident readers who continue appreciate the humor, some of which is quite sophisticated on many levels. The graphic format means that it is easy to grasp what is going on whatever ones reading level. The stories are full of humor and everyday experiences.

Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold is quite simply a hoot. With very few words Arnold weaves a wacky story of a boy and his fly. The fly can say the boy’s name, Buzz, as well as many other vital words with that zzzz sound. First readers and those who have been reading for 80 years will equally appreciate this humor.

Tornado by Betsy Byars is a good read for those non-so-brave readers who think they want to know what it is like to live through a tornado. While there is a tornado in this book, it is much more about a man telling stories about his favorite dog, Tornado, as the storm blows over. It will be no surprise if this book springs to mind when older readers select some of the many Byars books for older readers.

Houndsley and Catina series by James Howe focus on the friendship of a cat and a dog. The stories are similar to those other well-loved series like Howe’s Pinky and Rex, Cynthia Rylant’s Mr. Putter and Tabby or Henry and Mudge, and Jean Van Leeuwen’s Amada Pig. All of these books are solid stories of friendship and sharing.

Minnie and Moo series by Denys Cazet is one of my favorites, probably in part because I like cows so much. Friendly cows are not all this series has to offer. The stories have lots of humor as Minnie and Moo try to solve some common and some extraordinary problems in their lives. You have to love the illustrations that give these cows personality and charm.

Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker features a spunky young girl with definite ideas about how things should be. Her irrepressible nature gets her into trouble at times, but her heart is pure gold. The stories are realistic and remind me a bit of Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. They are not technically Early Readers, but will fit the needs of those who have gone just beyond those simplest of stories.

Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest by John Lechner is another graphic novel, a format that kids enjoy. This particular story teaches a little bit of botany and ecology while following the wild adventures of a burr who is not grumpy enough to please the other burrs. Some unexpected adventures lead to a happy ending for one and all.

Don’t forget the old favorite Early Reader authors like Dr. Seuss, Arnold Lobel, and James Marshall as you look among all the other offerings for the perfect titles.

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