easy readers






Latest articles from "The Horn Book Guide to Children's and Young Adult Books":

OLDER FICTION (October 1, 2012)

RELIGION (October 1, 2012)

LANGUAGE (October 1, 2012)

SPORTS (October 1, 2012)

TECHNOLOGY (October 1, 2012)

EASY READERS (October 1, 2012)

THE ARTS (October 1, 2012)

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A Walk in London
The Horn Book Magazine (May 1, 2011)

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The Horn Book Guide to Children's and Young Adult Books (October 1, 2011)

Finnikin of the Rock
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Publication: The Horn Book Guide to Children's and Young Adult Books
Date published: October 1, 2011

Big Bird at Home 40 pp. Candlewick isbn 978-0-7636-5067-4 $14.99 pe isbn 978-0-7636-5148-0 $5.99

(4) Ulustrated by Ernie Kwiat. Brand New Readers series. The four very short stories in this easy reader star Sesame Street character Big Bird. With the help of his friends, Big BUd cleans a room, prepares a snack, draws a picture, and dances. There's some comfort of familiarity in the Ulustrations, which, though static, are otherwise fine approximations of the TV show. The series' smaU, rectangular format is perfect for little hands, smg

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin Biscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-117751-4 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-117753-8 $3.99

(3) ulustrated by Pat Schories. I Can Read Book series. After dog Biscuit finds a lost teddy bear - "woof, woof" - he and his girl search for its owner. The toy doesn't belong to pup friends Sam or Puddle, but when Biscuit ("woof!") spots a moving van - and a crying toddler - the mystery is solved. The simple, gentle adventure, with its accessible vocabulary and big-button-eyed characters, will appeal to new readers, sh

Chaconas, Dori Cork & Fuzz: The Swimming Lesson 32 pp. Viking isbn 978-0-670-01281-7 $13.99

(2) Ulustrated by Lisa McCue. Viking Easy-to-Read series. Cork (muskrat) realizes Fuzz (possum) has never been to his house. "'I cannot go to your house/ [Fuzz] said. 'I do not know how to swim.'" After some on-the-ground lessons, Fuzz falls into the water and, following a moment of panic, swims. McCue's happy-go-lucky characters receive a lot of face time. Sight words ease the task for beginning readers. Review 7/11. bc

Curious George: Dinosaur Tracks 24 pp. Houghton isbn 978-0-547-44960-9 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-547-43888-7 $3.99

(4) Adapted by Julie Tibbott. George enjoys taking photographs of animal tracks. When he mistakenly identifies dinosaur tracks, he rushes to warn his friend BiU. Based on the PBS show, this stight story relies on the glossy color pictures and the appeal of the Curious George character. Instructions for making plaster casts of animal tracks are appended, smg

Day, Alexandra Carl and the Baby Duck 32 pp. Square Fish isbn 978-0-312-62484-2 $15.99 pe isbn 978-0-312-62485-9 $3.99

Day, Alexandra Carl and the Puppies 32 pp. Square Fish isbn 978-0-312-62482-8 $15.99 pe isbn 978-0-312-62483-5 $3.99

(3) My Readers series. Both books begin: "One of Carl's friends needs help. Who can it be?" Simple stories starring the beloved rottweiler follow. In Baby Duck, Carl helps locate a stray duckling; in Puppies, Carl dog-sits three active pups. Large print, controlled vocabulary, simple sentences and story arcs, supportive pictures, and plentiful white space make these a good choice for the newest readers, gbh

Eastman, Peter Fred and Ted's Road Trip 48 pp. Random/Beginner isbn 978-0-375-86764-4 $8.99 le isbn 978-0-375-96764-1 $12.99

(4) This third Fred and Ted adventure finds the dogs preparing for and going on a short road trip. Children may enjoy the text's silly humor, but for beginning readers, there's not much story to reward their work. Classic illustrations and the voice of the text are sweet, simple, and consistent with the earlier books, ejm

Feldman, Thea Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse: Harry to the Rescue! 48 pp. Square Fish isbn 978-0-312-62507-8 $15.99 pe isbn 978-0-312-62509-2 $3.99

Feldman, Thea Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse: Tucker's Beetle Band 32 pp. Square Fish isbn 978-0-312-62575-7 $15.99 pe isbn 978-0-312-62576-4 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Olga Ivanov and Aleksey Ivanov. My Readers series. In Rescue, Harry Cat helps Tucker Mouse escape from a shop (Chester Cricket doesn't appear in this story). Tucker becomes the manager of a bug band (whose noisy rehearsals originally drove him crazy) in Beetle. While Feldman's text and the Ivanovs' look-alike art aren't on par with Seiden and Williams's original work, these are two perfectly pleasant easy-reader episodes based on beloved characters, sh

Gantos, Jack Three Strikes for Rotten Ralph 48 pp. Farrar isbn 978-0-374-36354-3 $16.99

(3) Illustrated by Nicole Rubel. Rotten Ralph Rotten Reader series. Ralph spends more time dreaming of glory than practicing, so instead of earning a spot on the baseball team, he's given the job of "cat boy." In true Rotten Ralph spirit, the story's message never gets too message-y, thanks largely to impish embellishments - as when Ralph spits in all the players' new gloves to soften them - in both art and text. CMH

Ghigna, Charles, and Debra Ghigna Barn Storm 32 pp. Random le isbn 978-0-375-96114-4 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-375-86114-7 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Diane Greenseid. Step into Reading series. Published fall 2010. When a tornado hits a farm on Saturday night, a chaotic string of events mixes things up: chickens are in the corn, mule in the coop, etc. By Sunday morning, no animal is where it should be, but Farmer Brown's family grows "mighty fond" of the peculiar new arrangement. The Ghignas' silly rhymes bounce along; Greenseid's textured illustrations will elicit giggles, keh

Gilman, Grace Dixie 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-171914-1 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-171913-4 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Sarah McConnell. I Can Read Book series. Pup Dixie tries to help her owner Emma study for the role of Dorothy in the school's Wizard of Oz production. Some unintentional mischief-making ensues, but Dixie does her best to behave - and she shines as Toto alongside Emma in the play. Spirited illustrations capture the exuberance of the eager puppy, sh

Grogan, John Marley: Farm Dog 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-198938-4 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-198937-7 $3.99

(5) Text by Susan Hill. Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey and Lydia Halverson. I Can Read Book series. When Cassie and her family visit Uncle Bob's farm, she proves to be an excellent helper. Yellow Lab puppy Marley, on the other hand, runs amok in the garden and scatters the chickens and sheep. In the end, of course, Marley redeems himself. The overly sweet story, with illustrations of anthropomorphized animals and ever-smiling, squeaky-clean folks, is gratingly Dick-and-Jane reminiscent, gbh

Hapka, Catherine Pony Scouts: Back in the Saddle 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-125539-7 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-125541-0 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Anne Kennedy. I Can Read Book series. When the Pony Scouts, Meg, Jill, and Annie, go to the stable for a riding lesson, Annie falls off and is afraid to remount. Thinking about Surprise, the foal the Pony Scouts discovered in a previous volume, inspires her to try again. Simple sentences with generous leading, breezy cartoon illustrations, and spot-on horse-loving details make this perfect for equestrian early readers, alb

Harrison, David L., and Hans Wilhelm A Monster Is Coming! 32 pp. Random le isbn 978-0-375-96677-4 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-375-86677-7 $3.99

(4) Step into Reading series. "You eat like a monster," says Mama Bug to Baby Bug. This comment, misheard, sets off a chain reaction, as Inchworm, Toad, Mouse, Rabbit, and Fox hide from the monster they think is upon them. Though the story line is overly familiar, details in the accessible text and comical cartoon illustrations are likely to make new readers giggle. BB

Hayes, Geoffrey Patrick in "A Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories" 32 pp. Candlewick/TOON isbn 978-1-935179-09-2 $12.95

(3) Toon Book series. Toon Books continues its effort to attract new and reluctant readers through the comic-book format, using detaUed and refined illustrations. Hayes suppties engaging stories about bullying and napping and how his diminutive teddy bear protagonist tries to avoid each. Patrick is adorable, especially when he's wet from the rain or "ROAR!"ing his tittle heart out. nb

Herrod, Mike Doggie Dreams 32 pp. Blue Apple isbn 978-1-60905-065-8 $10.99

(3) Balloon Toons series. A boy wonders about his constantly sleeping dog's dreams. In quirky cartoon panels, we see some of them: the dog imagines dining at a fancy restaurant, becoming a rock star, and rescuing a fair puppy maiden. At night, he and his boy share the dream of playing together. Unfussy illustrations of the ambitious pup in repose enhance the story's humor, sh

Hill, Susan Black Beauty and the Thunderstorm 48 pp. Square Fish isbn 978-0-312-64705-6 $15.99 pe isbn 978-0-312-64721-6 $3.99

Hill, Susan Black Beauty Stolen! 48 pp. Square Fish isbn 978-0-312-64722-3 $15.99 pe isbn 978-0-312-64723-0 $3.99

(5) Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. My Readers series. Two easy readers exploit Black Beauty's name to lend star quality to sensationatistic but ultimately flat stories: in one, Black Beauty rescues a girl from a thunderstorm; in another, he's stolen but escapes and returns home. Some inaccurate horse details and over-the-top anthropomorphism of the animal protagonist detract from the tales. Illustrations that look tike oil paintings capture individual scenes, alb

Kohuth, Jane Ducks Go Vroom 32 pp. Random le isbn 978-0-375-96567-8 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-375-86560-2 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Viviana Garofoli. Step into Reading series. Three energetic young ducks vroom and zoom their way through the story, leaving chaos in their wake whUe visiting Auntie Goose. The spare rhyming text includes lots of kid-friendly noises - slurp, burp, munch, crunch - upping the read-along factor. Yellow-bright, round-edged illustrations boisterously convey the ducks' busy day. sh

Lamb, Albert The Abandoned Lighthouse 32 pp. Roaring Brook isbn 978-1-59643-525-4 $15.99

(3) Illustrated by David McPhall. "The bear often came down to the beach to stand. . . under the waterfall and wait for the fish to come tumbling down." Lamb launches right into this story about a bear, a boy, a rowboat, and a lighthouse. Lyrical text describes, without sentimentality, how the characters come together, then go their separate ways. McPhail's textured illustrations are as nuanced as the satisfying story, erg

Lewis, J. Patrick Tugg and Teeny 40 pp. Sleeping Bear le isbn 978-1-58536-514-2 $9.95 pe isbn 978-1-58536-685-9 $3.99

(4) Illustrated by Christopher Denise. In three episodic chapters, Tugg (a gorilla) supports his best friend Teeny (a monkey) in her pursuits to become a musician, an artist, and a poet, respectively. Cheery jungle-themed Illustrations effectively convey tone and emotion, while occasional sound effects ("squeak, squawk, screech") contribute to the somewhat cutesy text's fluidity, LB

Martin, Bill, Jr Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? 40 pp. Holt isbn 978-0-8050-9291-2 $8.99 New ed. (2007).

Martin, Bill, Jr Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? 40 pp. Holt isbn 978-0-8050-9292-9 $8.99 New ed. (2003).

(4) Illustrated by Eric Carle. My First Reader series. In these somewhat superfluous brand-extending easy reader versions of two more of Martin and Carle's picture books, the trim size is smaller, and the texts are broken into short phrases. Back matter includes a letter to parents and teachers and further activities, ERG

Mayer, Mercer A Green, Green Garden 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-083562-0 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-083561-3 $3.99

(4) My First I Can Read Book series. Little Critter is excited when planting time arrives. However, unexpected hard work - especially waiting - is required after a trip to the garden store. One or two simple sentences are supported by Illustrations on each page. It's the usual story, but readers familiar with Little Critter will enjoy the gentle mischief while finding the spider and mouse on most pages, GBH

Meddaugh, Susan Martha Speaks: Fireworks for All 24 pp. Houghton isbn 978-0-547-42897-0 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-547-42892-5 $3.99

Meddaugh, Susan Martha Speaks: Martha Camps Out 24 pp. Houghton isbn 978-0-547-55618-5 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-547-55619-2 $3.99

Meddaugh, Susan Martha Speaks: Thief of Hearts 24 pp. Houghton isbn 978-0-547-39349-0 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-547-37162-7 $3.99

(4) Adapted by Karen Barss. Green Light Readers series. Talking dog Martha helps broker a compromise for the town's fireworks display; discovers who is making scary sounds whil camping out; and finds missing Valentine card supplies. These three brief adaptations of episodes from the PBS series, while somewhat diverting for more confident beginning readers, are as glossy (and ultimately forgettable) as the cartoon representation of Meddaugh's trademark characters, BB

Michalak, Jamie Joe and Sparky, Superstars! 40 pp. Candlewick isbn 978-0-7636-4578-6 $15.99

(4) Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. After catching a glimpse of a reality TV performance contest, giraffe Joe decides that he and turtle pal Sparky will become "Superstars." Unfortunately finding their shared special talent isn't so easy for the pair. Though the story can be hard to follow, the lively text and humorous art, showing the creatures trying their best for greatness, will attract readers, BB

Olivia Plants a Garden 24 pp. Simon Spotlight isbn 978-1-4424-2011-3 $15.99 pe isbn 978-1-4424-1675-8 $3.99

(5) Adapted by Emily Sollinger. Illustrated by Jared Osterhold. Ready-to-Read series. Olivia takes some unlabeled seeds home from school. In a mildly amusing (but highly unlikely) twist, she's surprised to discover that they grow into Venus flytraps. Both the story and the heavy, static illustrations, based on the TV series, lack the energy and vibrancy of the original Olivia. Embedded text icons intended to aid emergent readers are mostly just confusing. PR

Parish, Herman Go West, Amelia Bedelía! 64 pp. Greenwillow isbn 978-0-06-084361-8 $17.99 le isbn 978-0-06-084362-5 $18.89

(4) Illustrated by Lynn Sweat. The always-literal Amelia Bedelía visits a dude ranch. She thinks a "broken" horse needs fixing, "driving" cows requires gas, and a "chuck wagon" must belong to someone named Chuck. In this installment, new readers unfamiliar with ranch expressions may identify more with Amelia Bedelia than with her patient hosts, but illustrations and smoothly inserted explanations help make sense of the plays on words, SF

Peyo Off to School!

32 pp. Simon Spotlight isbn 978-1-4424-3062-4 $15.99 pe isbn 978-1-4424-2138-7 $3.99

(6) Ready-to-Read: The Smurfs series. Frustrated that the Smurfs have forgotten basic skills, Papa Smurf sends them back to school. But Greedy Smurf has better things to do, like eat, so he skips school and gets lost in the forest. When he's found, Greedy has learned his lesson. The bland plot, with Smurf-laden dialogue, is accompanied by stiff, familiar-looking cartoon illustrations on bright green backgrounds. LB

Pliscou, Lisa Dude: Fun with Dude and Betty 40 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-175690-0 $14.99

(4) Illustrated by Tom Dunne. Dick-and-Jane stand-ins Dude and Betty hit the waves. Amusing text gives a righteous shout-out to the classic easy readers: "See Dude surf. . . Surf, Dude, surf." While the story is modernized for today's beach bums, cameos of fifties-style parents - and a wood-paneled cruisemobile - help preserve the retro feel and enhance the humor (yes, it's almost entirely for adults). A glossary of surfer terms is appended. SRA

Rabe, Tish Now You See Me. . . 32 pp. Random le isbn 978-0-375-96706-1 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-375-86706-4 $3.99

(5) Illustrated by Christopher Moroney. Step into Reading series. Based on an episode of PBS's animated Cat in the Hat series, this early reader features Nick and Sally as they learn about camouflage from a gecko and the Cat. The illustrations and rhyming text strive for a Seussian style; the cartoony art is more successful than the clunky verse. Readers gain a simplistic understanding of how animals use camouflage. EJM

Rau, Dana Meachen Flip Flop! 24 pp. Random le isbn 978-0-375-96583-8 $12.99 pe isbn 978-0-375-86583-1 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Jana Christy. Step into Reading series. Rhyming text and soft-focus but dynamic illustrations follow two friends as they vacillate about summer activities, from going to the fair or the zoo to washing the car or napping. Large type, short sentences, and sight words support beginning readers. Two removable sticker sheets are included. LB

Rosenstiehl, Agnès Silly Lilly in "What Will I Be Today?" 32 pp. Candlewick/ T(X)N isbn 978-1-935179-08-5 $12.95

(3) Toon Book series. "Silly Lilly Is a Cook," "Silly Lilly Is a City Planner," "Silly Lilly Is a Musician." Rosenstiehl devotes clean comic-strip-style panels to Lilly-centric careerthemed stories representing the seven days of the week. A great introduction to comics, this book knows what's important to kids, including learning to do a flip and being a good teacher to one's teddy bear. NB

Rylant, Cynthia Annie and Snowball and the Book Bugs Club 40 pp. Simon Spotlight isbn 978-1-4169-7199-3 $15.99

(3) Illustrated by Suçie Stevenson. Ready-to-Read: Annie and Snowball series. Cousin Henry kindly joins the summer "Book Bugs" reading club with Annie, figuring she does lots of things he likes. They enjoy reading their books together both indoors and outdoors. They also find friends with mutual reading interests at the library picnic. Rylant's celebration of the versatility and diversity of reading selections and experiences is nondidactic and gently amusing. SH

Scieszka, Jon Trucks Line Up 24 pp. Simon Spotlight isbn 978-1-4169-4158-3 $15.99 pe isbn 978-1-4169-4147-7 $3.99

(4) Illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon. Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series. Truck Jack calls his compadres to order: "Trucks line up!" As blue, pink, and green trucks fall into formation, Pete, who marches to his own drummer, realizes he was skipped ("Hey. . . What about me?"). Once that's sorted, the vehicles add their own humorous twist to the final "Line. . . UP!" Per usual, the story's frenzied energy will be a draw for some readers. CHS

Scotton, Rob Splat the Cat Sings Flat 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-197854-8 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-197853-1 $3.99

(4) Text by Chris Strathearn. IUustrated by Robert Eberz. I Can Read Book series. When Splat discovers he wUl be performing on Parents' Night, the worried cat frets, "I can't sing." With the help of teacher Mrs. Wimpydimple, mouse Seymour, and the whole cat chorus, Splat belts out a loud, flat "LAAAl" and becomes the show's hightight. There's not a lot to this, but fans of the fluffy kitty may enjoy it anyway. CHS

Sias, Ryan Zoe and Robot: Let's Pretend! 32 pp. Blue Apple isbn 978-1-60905-063-4 $10.99

(4) Balloon Toons series. Zoe (a gtil) tries to involve Robot (an android camped out in her living room) in a game of pillow mountain climbing. Despite Zoe's best efforts, the skill of pretending doesn't come easliy to Robot. Eventually he gets the hang of it, and theti climbing party is a success. There is some humor, especiaUy in the cartoon-panel illustrations, but tension is lacking. SH

Urbanovic, Jackie Ducks in a Row 32 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-186438-4 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-186437-7 $3.99

(3) Story by Lori Haskins Houran. Illustrated by Joe Mathieu. I Can Read Book series. Just as duck Max is feeling useless, demanding aunts Pat, Dot, and Flo arrive. Max is eager to help, but he quickly finds himself exhausted. After the visit he's grateful for some rest - and for tiene's anticipation of his needs. The story, with its famitiar cartoon illustrations, isn't as gleefully zany as Urbanovic's picture books, but it will still make new readers giggle. GBH

Willems, Mo I Broke My Trunk! 57 pp. Hyperion isbn 978-1-4231-3309-4 $8.99

(3) Elephant & Piggie Book series. When Gerald shows up with a broken trunk, Piggie listens to his "long, crazy story" about how the injury occurred. Piggie, exasperated as Gerald's tale expands (to include Hippo, Rhino, and Hippo's "big" sister), finally gets the truth out of his friend. The story's comical, cyclical telling - along with Elephant and Piggie's ever-humorous facial expressions - make this another enjoyable series entry. CR

Willems, Mo Should I Share My Ice Cream? 57 pp. Hyperion isbn 978-1-4231-4343-7 $8.99

(3) Elephant & Piggie Book series. Elephant Gerald weighs the pros and cons of splitting his ice cream with best friend Piggie. By the time Gerald works through his angst, though, the ice cream has melted. Luckily, Piggie knows how to cheer Gerald up. A famitiar problem, a satisfying resolution, and Willems's friendly illustrations and book design are just what new readers crave. KF

Yorinks, Arthur Floppy and Scrappy 48 pp. HarperCollins/Harper isbn 978-0-06-205117-2 $16.99 pe isbn 978-0-06-205913-0 $3.99

(3) Illustrated by Aleksey Ivanov and Olga Ivanov. I Can Read Book series. Flappy, a collie, and Scrappy, who looks tike a mutt, star in three short stories. In the first, Flappy, misunderstanding the farm animals' mouths-full-of-food greetings, thinks she's being made fun of; in the second, she tries to play catch; then Scrappy's in for a surprise on his birthday. The texts use gentle humor, and the illustrations have an eye-pleasing, pastoral sensibility. SH

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