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Off to School for New Readers!

By on August 30, 2017

Ready to Read? Looking for some great stories for the newest readers? Here are some terrific titles to try! 

by Meribeth C. Shank 

A Brand-New Day with Mouse and Mole

by Wong Herbert Yee
BrandNewDayIn this delightfully amusing Level 3 easy-reader, two friends find new ideas for being together. Think Arnold Lobel’s “Frog and Toad” series, only with more advanced vocabulary. The similar quirky illustrations are done with litho pencil and gouache. They follow the friends through the day with sometimes-comical, occasionally surprising, and always actively energetic artistry.

When Mole greets a brand-new day, his initial pleasure is brief because moths have made holes in his clothes. Mouse, his friend, helps chase away the moths and together they decide to eat first at the diner and then look for replacement clothes at the new store next door. Mole thinks of a creative solution to problems with the clothes. The two friends go fishing and then unexpectedly end up in the pond. The fourth and concluding chapter shows the two friends as they each choose resourceful and inventive means to share with each other.

Repetition is used to identify characters, to connect different parts of the story between chapters, and to draw readers attention to a circling pattern of relationships between the characters, through the language of the story and the ideas developed by the skill and cleverness of the projects.

This charmer will hold the attention of beginning readers and their families!

Houghton Mifflin, $3.99 (paperback) $15 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Grades 1 – 3 (This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main Library. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


Frank Pearl in the Awful Waffle Kerfuffle

by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid
FrankPearlFrom the author of the Judy Moody and Stink series comes their friend, Frank Pearl who wants to win a contest. He enters the yo-yo contest showing off his amazing Flying Skunk trick. Frank takes his parrot, Cookie, to the Pets Are Family contest at the Fur & Fangs Pet Store. And, in the third chapter of this cheerful book, Frank and his friends participate in the third-grade Breakfast Bash and Waffle-Off, a Saturday contest at school to raise funds for their field trip.

The colorful digital illustrations show a spectacled Frank as he works to win. There is plenty of action; the children’s expressions and the animals’ actions are engaging. Frank and the other children are active and involved in their community.

McDonald’s characteristic good humor combined with Madrid’s comedic sense of fun and timing make this a winning choice for independent readers.

Candlewick Press, $4.99 (paperback) $12.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library: Main. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


The Infamous Ratsos

by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers
TheInfamousRatsos
Brothers Louie and Ralphie Ratso who live in the Big City, want to be tough like their dad, Big Lou. Their mother has been gone for a while and they remind each other that talking a lot, and riding the bus instead of walking are for softies. They try to think of what they can do to show how tough they are.

But, each time, their efforts to be tough backfire. Others think they’re heroes, or thoughtful, generous, and helpful. When they think they’re finally going to get in trouble, their dad shares a letter from school honoring the brothers for their kindness.

Ink and watercolor illustrations in black and white are comic book style; humorously dressed animal characters, with eyeglasses, droopy ears, and prickly looking expressions. Expressive faces and body language show the contrasts between before and after the Ratso brothers’ actions. The added depth strengthens the storyline of this award winner, making the seventh, and final chapter convincing in its departure from what the brothers (and early readers!) might expect.

Candlewick Press, $4.99 (paperback) $14.99 (hardcover)
Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2
(This book is available to borrow at the Miami Dade Library. Also, may be purchased from local and online booksellers.)


Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, has taught classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College. You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com

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