Tag Archives: easy readers

This is a Dog by Ross Collins

by Ross Collins a dog
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

I will admit that I was skeptical when my coworker handed me this one, proclaiming it’s hilarious. The first several pages are fairly benign, with simple text reading “This is a [animal]” and then a picture of that animal. But the dog on the cover gets increasingly bold and chases the other animals away or making their page say “This is a dog.” He even dresses up like an elephant on the elephant page, which made me laugh out loud. The text follows as the antics veer off into “this is a chase” and “this is a trick” and ends with the dog having eluded the others and curls up to sleep. (One note to those who try to stay away from potty humor is that one spread has the dog peeing on a giraffe.) This book would be a great Kindergarten read-aloud, plus the large type and repetition of “This is a” on every page would make it a good early reader too! Very reminiscent of Kelly Bingham’s Z is for Moose and Circle, Square, Moose – but this dog is less obnoxious than Moose.

Hooray for Lolo by Niki Daly

9781946395382by Niki Daly
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Lolo is a young South African girl with relatable adventures. Her mother and grandmother, Gogo, help her navigate a best friend who embellishes,  getting her first library card (and promptly losing track of her first library book), having surgery (appendicitis), and babysitting. There is a second book of her adventures, Here Comes Lolo, both published in 2020. This book is an early transitional chapter book and Lolo reminds me of Anna Hibiscus. At the beginning is a two-word glossary for words in Xhosa, one of which doesn’t appear in the book at all. More helpful words would have been Gogo or Tata, though the reader eventually figures them out from the story.

Case of the Missing Carrot Cake

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Meet Detective Wilcox and Captain Griswold, MFIs (Missing Food Investigators). When they get a call from Miss Rabbit across the farm about her missing carrot cake, they jump on the case and solve it before the party.

This book seems aimed at about a second-grade reading level but had tons of puns and police jargon jokes that I’m not sure if kids will think it’s funny or mostly confusing or will go over their heads entirely. But it was a solid story and not one that a kid is likely to solve on their own, though the clues are presented (and I’m pleased to say that I figured it out about halfway through, unlike with certain Encyclopedia Browns I have read before!).

Next Stop: The Trouble With Chickens http://www.doreencronin.com/books.html

Double Review: American Revolution Easy Readers

I live and work in Massachusetts, where Patriot’s Day (and all things American Revolution) is alive and well. Over the past year, I’ve heard my colleagues recommend two particular books on a number of occasions, and I decided it was finally time to read them.

Sam the Minuteman by Nathaniel Benchley, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (of Frog and Toad fame)

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Sam lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, and gets swept up in the Battle of Lexington. The text is copyright 1969 and refers to the war being “about 200 years ago.” It explains the origin of the term Minuteman (being ready at a minute’s notice to fight the British), a brief glimpse at everyday colonial life, and how drastically outnumbered the rebel colonists were. I had to ask my colleagues, who were mostly locals, to fill in some of the gaps since it is billed as fiction, but all the facts were the same (only Sam did not exist). There is a reenactment every year in Lexington that I was trying to reconcile with the description of the battle in the book, but they’re both pretty close to truth. It’s an I Can Read book, level 3, and includes long words like awakened and frightened, plus a few contractions.

George the Drummer Boy, also by Nathaniel Benchley, illustrated by Don Bolognese

Overall: 4 out of 5 stars

Same deal, only the story of the battles of Lexington and Concord are told by a British boy, who also reminds us that “one of by land, two if by sea” turned out to be two lanterns in the church tower, so the soldiers went by boat. It presents facts like the people of Concord had hidden their battle supplies elsewhere, and the British set fire to some buildings. George seems more clueless than Sam, though his story doesn’t involve as much waiting around. Each boy has a friend his own age who gets hit, so the danger is there but not the blood and pain. This is also an I Can Read book, level 3.

I’m a Frog!

by Mo Willems
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars

Fans of Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series will not be disappointed by the latest installment. Piggie is back, being her irrepressibly creative and free-spirited self, and Gerald the elephant overcomes his stodgy, inside-the-box thinking to a hilarious conclusion. My coworkers and I nabbed this one as it came into the library on hold for a patron and quickly passed it around. In true Mo Willems style, my favorite part was the aside to adults. 100% Willems, 100% brilliant. It’s always hard to know if he’ll be able to top himself, but it’s safe to say this is my favorite Elephant and Piggie yet!

Wizard and Wart in Trouble

by Janice L. Smith
Overall: 3 out of 5 stars

I don’t usually get too excited about Easy Readers that aren’t written by Mo Willems or Cynthia Rylant, but this one came up in a specific search (for fantasy that a certain 7-year-old I know can read by himself) and it was pretty cute. The title is a joke and you have to read all four short chapters to get the joke at the very end, but it made the work of reading rewarding, which is good for when reading is still work.