For an easy reader/independent reader, Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same is great! The reason I say that is that independent readers tend not to hFor an easy reader/independent reader, Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same is great! The reason I say that is that independent readers tend not to have much in terms of complexity. They're very straightforward with an extremely simple and often formulaic plot. There are, of course, plenty of exceptions, and Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same is one of them. Broken into several very short chapters, the stories can stand alone, but also build upon each other. I think that the subtitle, "Not Exactly the Same!" is perhaps a wink to the idea that Asian Americans "all look same," even though the book is about twins and them being the same on the outside, but very different inside.
Ling is the very literal and well-behaved twin, while Ting is the fidgety and forgetful one. The illustrations are really simple and cute. In short, this is a really perfect independent reader--not too complex, but not boring. I have a feeling that it has child appeal as well, although I haven't road tested it, so to speak.
As a Chinese-American, I had a few problems with Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same. I know that Grace Lin writes a lot of books dealing with Chinese-American themes, but it bothered me nevertheless. They're small annoyances, but here's what I had a slight problem with: -The names. Ling and Ting? I know a lot of Chinese people (with Chinese names), but I do not know anyone named Ling OR Ting. Just because they're Chinese doesn't mean they have to have super stereotypical sounding names, does it? Why couldn't they have been Gina & Tina? May and Kay? -There's a chapter called "chopsticks," in which Ling has trouble using chopsticks. After brainstorming possible solutions to her problem, she eventually decides, "I know! I'll just use a fork!" Is she implying that forks are superior to chopsticks? Then again, chopsticks ARE difficult for children to use.
Maybe I'm being hypersensitive, and it's not anything where I wouldn't want my own (hypothetical) children to read the book. I actually liked it quite a lot. It's just those two things that got to me, I guess.
2011 Geisel Honor Book Grades 1-3 Great for children who are starting to read chapter books, but good for read-alouds, too (more one on one though)...more
Bink and Gollie is a book about two very different friends, as many classic children's books are (George and Martha, Frog and Toad). Bink is a small aBink and Gollie is a book about two very different friends, as many classic children's books are (George and Martha, Frog and Toad). Bink is a small and rambunctious little girl (somewhat androgynous except for her skirt), while Gollie is tall, composed, and dignified. The book is composed of three vignettes about the pair.
Like everyone else has said, Bink and Gollie is completely charming. At first, I was a little unsure about all the "big words" and different way of talking ("I long for speed," "I must journey forth into the wider world," "Here I am, where none but a few have ventured."). After all, the easy reader/independent reader audience doesn't know words like "bonanza," "marvelous," and "inquire." But I can certainly picture a smart-alecky kid with a penchant for using new words (such as myself at that age) talking exactly like Bink and Gollie. Besides, there are actually few words, it's just that they are harder than "cat" or "hat" (ahem) and the sentences aren't formulaic and babyfied. It's not likely that a child reading the book will know what everything in it means, but they should be able to use the visual cues to pick up on it.
I really need to make mention of the awesome illustrations. Fucile's illustrations are deceptively simple but he is able to convey emotion so well. He also uses black and white juxtaposed with color to help focus on the action in the scene, but not in an artsy "Sin City" type of way. It's really a winning combination of authors and artist.
I have a hard time saying what age/grade level this is for, because I know a lot of children with widely varying reading levels. I guess it'd be appropriate for Grades 1-3, the place on the spectrum of that depending on how proficient they are with reading (do they give up easily when they see a new word they don't know?)
I adore all of Mo Willems' books, but We Are in a Book!, part of the Elephant and Piggie series, is particularly delightful. It seems like "meta" bookI adore all of Mo Willems' books, but We Are in a Book!, part of the Elephant and Piggie series, is particularly delightful. It seems like "meta" books are in these days, from It's a Book to Interrupting Chicken. In We Are in a Book!, Elephant and Piggie realize that they are being read... "by a READER!" Hijinks ensue. Mo Willems has such a wonderful gift of saying so much with so few words (which is what independent readers are all about), but unlike many authors who write for the preschool age group, his books aren't at all precious. I read this for an elephant storytime with another librarian (she was Elephant, I was Piggie), and both the children and parents got a big kick out of it.
An ok Mo Willems book is like the equivalent of a great independent reader by any other author, so even though I Broke My Trunk! wasn't my favorite ElAn ok Mo Willems book is like the equivalent of a great independent reader by any other author, so even though I Broke My Trunk! wasn't my favorite Elephant and Piggie book. However, I would still recommend it, along with the other books in the series. In I Broke My Trunk!, Elephant's trunk is broken, and Piggie wants to know why. Elephant tells him a story of trying to lift Rhino, Hippo, and other friends on his trunk. "Is that how you broke your trunk?" Nope, turns out that Elephant broke his trunk by doing that terrific feat of strength, then running to tell his bestie Piggie... and running into a wall. All Elephant and Piggie books have a fun little twist at the end, usually one that leaves me laughing out loud. This one was subtle in comparison. Also, it was an interesting switch: usually Elephant is the sensible one and Piggie is the silly one, but in this one it was the opposite.
In my eyes, Mo Willems can do no wrong. In particular, the Elephant & Piggie series are fantastic in their simplicity, the use of volume, noises,In my eyes, Mo Willems can do no wrong. In particular, the Elephant & Piggie series are fantastic in their simplicity, the use of volume, noises, etc., and I just love how the stories trick you into thinking that it'll be a basic and predictable story, and then surprise you. Listen to My Trumpet! is no different. It's the story of Piggie's new trumpet, which makes horrible screeches, and Gerald having to make the decision to be honest and tell Piggie how it really sounds. But of course, things aren't always as they seem, and Gerald (Elephant) and Piggie remain the best of friends.
Could be great for a musical instrument storytime, or, as always with Elephant and Piggie, one about elephants, pigs, or friends.
Oooh, I really like Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover! It's so deserving of its recent Geisel Honor. AND I just found out that author/illustrator Cece BOooh, I really like Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover! It's so deserving of its recent Geisel Honor. AND I just found out that author/illustrator Cece Bell is married to Tom Angleberger, author of the Origami Yoda series. Power couple! Anyway, Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover is just about perfect as a beginning/independent reader. It has really simple but colorful illustrations, two easy to remember characters, a very simple plotline, a good bit of humor, and, of course, a small-ish vocabulary. Of course, I adore the Bink and Gollie books for independent readers, but this one is great, too.
Rabbit has invited his good friend Robot over for a sleepover, and he's very excited about it. He has written a list of things for them to do: make pizza, watch TV, play Go Fish, then go to bed. But Robot is not just like Rabbit. He has other tastes. For example, Rabbit wants to put carrots and celery on his pizza, but Robot only wants nuts and bolts on his. Rabbit wants to watch TV, but the remote is missing! Rabbit wants to play Go Fish, but Robot prefers Old Maid. And why is Robot "asleep" (hint: he needs batteries)? This is a great friendship book and would also be perfect to prepare a child for their first sleepover. The lesson here: be flexible. Your friend has interests, too. You can compromise and you'll both have fun.
Kevin Henkes has already mastered picture books (Caldecott winner Kitten's First Full Moon, Chrysanthemum) and middle-grade novels (Olive's Ocean, JunKevin Henkes has already mastered picture books (Caldecott winner Kitten's First Full Moon, Chrysanthemum) and middle-grade novels (Olive's Ocean, Junonia), but Penny and Her Song is his first easy reader. Henkes employs his usual adorable, buoyant animals, and his trademark illustration style to tell this story about Penny, a little mouse with a song to sing. Penny has made up a song, but when she tries to sing it to her mother and father, they ask her not to sing it, because her baby siblings are sleeping. However, this isn't a story of mean parents who stifle creativity, but rather, that there is a time for everything. As far as ease of reading, this is one of the easier early chapter books I've seen (can be read aloud in under 5 minutes and contains only two short chapters) and is relatively simple. I liked it very much, but didn't think it was really a standout.
This was a pretty standard easy reader. Illustrations are really cute but nothing new or innovative, and the story didn't really flow to me. Mrs. HippThis was a pretty standard easy reader. Illustrations are really cute but nothing new or innovative, and the story didn't really flow to me. Mrs. Hippo's pizza parlor doesn't have any business, and William Hippo (her son) is sad because that means he won't get the shiny green bicycle he's been wanting for his birthday. To take their minds off their financial woes, Mrs. Hippo, William, and his friend Ellie Bear go to the beach, where they decide to advertise for Mrs. Hippo's Pizza Parlor by writing it in the sand. When they get back, the pizza parlor is incredibly busy and everyone has completely transferred their allegiance from burgers to pizza. The next day, William Hippo gets his shiny new bike for his birthday.
It's impossible to read Josh Schneider's Tales for Very Picky Eaters without cracking a smile. It has a perfect mix of kid appeal (general silliness,It's impossible to read Josh Schneider's Tales for Very Picky Eaters without cracking a smile. It has a perfect mix of kid appeal (general silliness, fun illustrations) and parental approval (basically, telling kids that they should eat their mushroom lasagna, oatmeal, and other hated foods. Told in very short chapters, this is about a boy who is, as the title suggests, a very picky eater. But everytime he tells his dad he doesn't want to eat something, his dad gives him a compelling reason not to. Here's my favorite, told when James says he can't eat the mushroom lasagna:
"Oh, dear," said James's father. "What?" asked James. "Nothing," said James's father. "I'll just have to fire the troll." "What troll?" "The troll living in the basement. We hired him specially to make this mushroom lasagna. He works very hard. He works all night long perfecting his recipe. Sometimes, if you lie very still in your bed, you can hear them moving around in the basement, clanking his pots and pans while he makes this mushroom lasagna for you. But if you don't like it, I suppose we will just have to tell him to leave. He'll be so upset. He'll have to go back to his old job." "What was his old job?" asked James. "He worked at the rat circus." "That doesn't sound so good," said James. "It isn't so good. It's so bad. The rats have sharp teeth and they love to bite. They will bite anything, but they especially love to bite trolls. And they eat his lunch when he isn't looking."
Tell me that, paired with an image of a troll wearing a toque and "Kiss the Cook" apron, didn't make you crack up.
This isn't necessarily what I'd think of in terms of early chapter books, because it doesn't use the same words over and over again, and isn't as repetitive as, say, a Mo Willems book. But it's very, very funny.
Great for: classroom read-alouds, father-son book clubs, bedtime stories, anything imaginable, other than storytimes. 2012 Geisel Award Winner Ages 5-7...more
This latest Elephant and Piggie book follows the same formula as its predecessors: entirely dialogue, mostly between Elephant and his best friend PiggThis latest Elephant and Piggie book follows the same formula as its predecessors: entirely dialogue, mostly between Elephant and his best friend Piggie; simple illustrations depicting actions and emotions, and very entertaining. Normally, Elephant and Piggie books are great for two people to read aloud, because of the two characters, but this one focused mainly on Elephant and his internal struggle (Should I share my ice cream?). In some cases, formula can become staid, but in this case, why change what works? And it always works.
I could probably write the same thing about every single Mo Willems book: cute, charming, funny, easy reader. The end. But I'll say a little bit moreI could probably write the same thing about every single Mo Willems book: cute, charming, funny, easy reader. The end. But I'll say a little bit more about this one. It's a "chapter" book with 6.5 easy chapters about, you guessed it, Amanda and her (stuffed) alligator. Each chapter starts with either Amanda visiting the library, or reading one of her newest library books. The titles are a riot--Climbing Things for Fun and Profit, Whale Songs for Beginners, and You Can Make It Yourself-Jet Packs! among them. I love that alligator deals with loneliness, questioning his self-worth, rejection, making new friends, and other friendship/relationship issues, but in a playful/silly way. But the thing that really won me over to Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator! is the illustration of Alligator. His nose and mouth form a little face, which changes to mimic his expression (surprised, annoyed, happy,e tc.). What a cute, clever, and simple little detail.
The chapters could be read separately or together as one book (it's a 72-page picture book, though, so maybe for slightly older kids), but there are little details that get carried throughout the book. Like some of Willems' other longer picture books like Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, the words aren't as easy as the designated easy readers like the Pigeon series or the Elephant and Piggie series, but there's enough repetition, and the sentences are short enough that beginning readers should be able to read this independently.
Ages 3+ to be read to Ages 6+ independent reading...more
If they play their cards right, Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee, and Tony Fucile's Bink and Gollie could be the next Frog and Toad. Or George and MarthaIf they play their cards right, Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee, and Tony Fucile's Bink and Gollie could be the next Frog and Toad. Or George and Martha. In any case, this pair of best friends are charming and funny, and the authors continue to impress me with their simple language that doesn't dumb anything down and the illustrations that have depth but aren't overwhelming. Highly recommended to fans of the first book....more