Great New Early Chapter Books
Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Emily Hughes
This sequel to Geisel award-winning Charlie & Mouse is just as sweet and wonderful as the first one. In this book, Grumpy comes for a visit but he’s not grumpy at all. His love for his grandkids is apparent as is his understanding of how they are feeling inside. Mouse doesn’t think he is growing as fast as Charlie. He’s growing “medium” instead but Grumpy agrees that “medium” is a great place to be. After a night of babysitting, it’s time for Grumpy to go home. This is sad for everyone including Mouse’s blanket and the reader, but we are all comforted by the thought of the next installment. [early chapter book series, ages 6 and up]
King & Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
King is a dog and Kayla is his human. They are detectives. In this book, King’s ball goes missing over the fence and it’s up to him and Kayla to find it. A cat under the porch gives King a clue. Kayla is not pleased when King jumps over the fence to investigate on his own, but they are both happy with the result. These gentle adventures remind me of Mr. Putter and Tabby. [early chapter book series, ages 6 and up
Claude on the Big Screen by Alex T. Smith
There is something so appealing about the larger than life adventures that Claude the dog has with his sock friend while his humans are at work. In this book, Claude ends up in the middle of a movie being shot right in his neighborhood. This explains why a gorilla is sitting at a cafe having tea. After many escapades involving his beret, clothesline, and many costumes, Claude returns home with a box of costumes and the gorilla. His humans thought he was asleep all day but the reader knows better. This is a fun series of surreal and silly adventures to delight young readers. [early chapter book series, ages 6 and up]
Joe and Sparky, Party Animals by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Joe, a giraffe, and Sparky, a turtle, are a comedic pair with Sparky playing the straight guy. They decide to throw a surprise party, but while it is for Joe’s pet worm, Wiggy, Sparky suspects Joe is throwing a party for himself. There is humor that readers will delight in on every page and this sweet adventure leaves the door open for more antics to come. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUuyen Pham
I’m generally not a big fan of princess books but this series is for those who like their princesses as ninja heroes. A princess playdate gets interrupted by a monster that escapes and is on the prowl for goats to eat. No one must know that Princess Magnolia is the Princess in Black, a mysteriously masked heroine. Her friend, Princess Sneezewort also admires the mysterious Princess in Black and discovers the ninja heroine inside her. [early chapter book series, ages 6 and up]
Babymouse: Tales from the Locker Lights, Camera, Middle School by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
This is the perfect chapter book for a reluctant girl reader. The content is appealing for someone in 5th or 6th grade but the reading level is a few grades lower than that. Girls with older sisters would also relate to these mean girl middle-grade social issues. I also liked the introduction of filmmaking in this book. With inserts of comic style illustration panels as well as plenty of illustrations to break up the text, this is my pick for reluctant girl readers. [early chapter book, ages 8 and up]
Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A. J. Low
This is an interesting premise for a series: a slightly overweight boy, Samuel Tan Cher Lock (a.k.a. Sherlock Sam), who solves mysteries along with his robot and happens to live in Singapore. That’s right, Singapore! This first mystery revolves around food, namely his grandmother’s secret family recipes which fits right in with my view of Singapore, famous for its hawker food market. Sam is a foodie so he’s the perfect guide to eating in Singapore!
I like this series a lot but I wish there was more description of the food, especially what it tastes like. For example, one famous recipe is Ayam buah keluak, is simply described as chicken rice. When I looked it up, it’s quite an elaborate preparation with unfamiliar ingredients to me. I would love to know what the flavors are. I also wanted to learn more about Peranakan culture in Singapore and what place in society it has. While it is alluded to, it is never really explained in detail. This series brings wonderful diversity to any bookshelf! [early chapter book, ages 7 and up]
Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A. J. Low
The second Sherlock Sam has him investigating ghosts at Fort Canning, a school field trip that also covers some of Singapore’s history including occupation by Japan. Sherlock Sam, his robot Watson, his dad, and friend Jimmy go ghost hunting in a search that leads to a mystery involving bootlegging. I enjoyed the sequel as much as the first! [early chapter book, ages 7 and up
Fergus and Zeke by Kate Messner, illustrated by Heather Ross
This is a mouse version early chapter book version of The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler but in this case, it’s the Museum of Natural History and it’s just a visit to the museum instead of an extended stay. Fergus, the class mouse, decides to tag along to the field trip to the Museum of Natural History where he makes a new mouse friend. When it’s time to go home, Fergus has a new field trip buddy and classroom friend. This is a must-read for anyone who likes science museums! [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest by Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Joe Berger
Pandora’s grandmother is a witch with an itch to make mischief. Pandora is on a spell week-long timeout due to a recent mishap so it’s up to her to rein in her grandmother during her visit. It seems like the grandmother has the most fun in this book, which makes it less appealing for kids. Still, those who like Backyard Witch: Sadie’s Story by Christine Hepperman and Ron Koertge will also like this book. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, illustrated by Carmen Mok
There are many elements that I like about this book. I like how the older brother, Liam, waits impatiently for his new baby sister to come home. I like how his grandmother lives downstairs and is handy with tools. Still, there is something not quite believable about this story even though the checklist is all there: Liam is a great older brother, Liam gets tired of a crying baby, and baby Sophie loves Liam the most. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why this book doesn’t sing for me but I think it’s straddling too many lines. It has moments of humor like being bad to make the time pass faster, but the humor doesn’t carry through the entire book. Liam acts like the perfect older brother but these scenes feel staged like he’s an actor reading lines. I wish the story took more chances instead of playing it so safe. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Peg + Cat: The Camp Problem by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
I’m not fond of the font in this book which is strangely wiggly and makes the story appear to be tentative. I do like the math imbued in this early chapter book series. In this book, it’s addition to 100 that is the camp problem challenge via sleep-away camp contests. For a leveled reader, this has a sweet appeal. This book helps to show how math is part of everyday life. While this would not be my first choice for kids to read at home, it makes a great classroom library addition. [early chapter book series, ages 6 and up]
5 Early Chapter Book GIVEAWAY
I’m giving away 5 early chapter books. Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Please list your first, second, and third choice in the comments. I can only ship to U.S. addresses.
- Fergus and Zeke by Kate Messner, illustrated by Heather Ross
- Joe and Sparky, Party Animals by Jamie Michalak, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
- Babymouse: Tales from the Locker Lights, Camera, Middle School by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
- Hubble Bubble: The Great Granny Cake Contest by Tracey Corderoy, illustrated by Joe Berger
- Peg + Cat: The Camp Problem by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.