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Early Chapter Books

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Getting stronger with reading but not quite ready for novels?  Easy, transitional books for the in-between readers.

Willems, Mo.
Who is the Mystery Reader?

As Zoom Squirrel and his friends try to identify the Mystery Reader, they learn about books, how the are written, and how to read--while sharing a-corny jokes. (LSC)

DiCamillo, Kate.
Mercy Watson goes for a ride

She's back! Mercy , the porcine wonder, is back in all her buttered-toast eating glory. It's Saturday, time for a ride in the pink convertible. But, does Mercy like to ride or drive? Drive! Only Mrs. Watson's promise of extra helpings of hot buttered toast can get this clever pig to scoot across the front seat and enjoy the weekly adventure. And when next-door neighbor Baby Lincoln hankers for a little adventure of her own, the fun really begins. From the toast icons that surround the page numbers, to faux-tape spine, and hilariously gaudy over-the-top illustrations, this is a throw-back in the best sense of the word. When Mercy ends up sitting on top of Mr. Watson in the driver's seat and Baby has to crawl over the seat to help out, it's hard not to think of Lucy, Ethel and Ricky caught in another pickle. All's well that ends well, of course, and that means everyone can celebrate with a stack of toast and an extra pat of butter. (Kirkus reviews)

McDonald, Megan.
Stink and the freaky frog freakout

Stink struggles to learn how to swim until one day he encounters a mutant frog and then suddenly he starts to act just like a frog. (LSC)

Muncaster, Harriet.
Isadora Moon goes to the ballet

Isadora Moon, a half-fairy, half-vampire, goes on school trip to her first ballet, with her parents as chaperones and Pink Rabbit at her side. (NoveList)

Coven, Wanda.
Heidi Heckelbeck has a secret

After being homeschooled her whole life, Heidi Heckelbeck enters a real school in second grade, where she encounters a mean girl named Melanie who makes her feel like an alien. (LSC)

Barrows, Annie.
Ivy + Bean make the rules

It's spring break, and Bean's big sister, Nancy, is off to Monkey Park, where she'll get to spend every day having secret, big-kid fun at Girl Power 4-Ever Camp for girls 11-14. Bean is 7. No way is Bean attending Puppet Fun! She and Ivy can make their own fun. After a false start (one board does not a tree house make; some things are beyond even duct tape's powers), Ivy has a brilliant idea, and Camp Flaming Arrow is born. When their moms let these small agents of chaos visit the park on their own, readers will know what to expect. Nancy's camp offers Crafts, Dance and First Aid; so does Ivy and Bean's--with a difference. Their friendship bracelets turn into chains binding Houdini hand and foot. Their tap dancing (stick thumbtacks into shoe soles, climb onto old metal wash tub and voilà!) is more fun than a silly old dance routine--louder anyway. Their First Aid, with the help of fake blood and bandages, morphs into a game of Zombies among the Puppet Fun kids. Quickly acquiring an enthusiastic following, the two inventive camp counselors give a whole new meaning to Girl Power. As usual, Blackall's art conveys the girls' anarchically imaginative glee, bringing the mischief and mayhem to messy, hilarious life. Making the rules rules! (Kirkus reviews)

Cummings, Troy.
Attack of the shadow smashers

The latest monsters threatening Stermont Elementary are shadowy shapeshifters that attach themselves to people, eat their shadows, and block out all light--but before he can think of a way to deal with them, Alexander has to deal with a startling revelation from his friend Nikki. (LSC)

McKay, Hilary.
Lulu and the dog from the sea

Lulu and Mellie, 7-year-old cousins and best friends, share a summer outing with lots of doggy goodness. The cottage by the sea is not exactly what Lulu's parents had envisioned--it is rather far from the beach, there are only two cups and two glasses, and the caretaker is grumpy and warns them about a stray, savage dog . The girls, however, are delighted, especially when Lulu , who loves animals, spots a very unkempt dog . Restaurant folk and the ice-cream-stand people know about the dog , too. Soon readers meet him, and they learn that he was born behind the Golden Lotus restaurant, that his mother and sisters were taken by the dogcatcher, and that he survives by stealing from picnics and garbage cans and by avoiding grown-ups. Lulu has brought Sam, her elderly dog , on vacation, too, but that does not stop her from finding ways of feeding and encouraging the stray "dog from the sea ." When the kite that has been Mellie's vacation project leads the girls out at dawn and into some difficulty, it is the dog from the sea who overcomes his fear of adults and leads them to the lost and frightened girls. Thus, Lulu's menagerie grows as the vacation week ends, and two dogs come home. Whether they live with dogs or not, readers will absorb some truths about family vacations and the true care of animal companions in the company of Lulu and Mellie, who are as utterly charming and as completely age 7 as possible. - Kirkus reviews

Pennypacker, Sara
Clementine

As Clementine says, Spectacularful ideas are always sproinging up in my brain. All the better for readers who like to laugh. Reminiscent of both Ramona and Junie B. Jones, Clementine is an ingenuous third-grader with a talent for trouble and a good heart. Her best friend is her neighbor Margaret, a fourth-grader who experiences both qualities firsthand. After all, plenty of kids may have had their hair chopped off by a helpful friend in an effort to get the glue out, but how many of those friends would think to improve matters by drawing hair back on the scalp, forehead, and neck with a Flaming Sunset permanent marker? "It looked beautiful, like a giant tattoo of tangled worms", Clementine observes in the fresh, funny, first-person narrative. Frazee's expressive ink drawings capture every nuance of the characters' emotions, from bemusement to anger to dejection. Sometimes touching and frequently amusing, this engaging chapter book is well suited to reading alone or reading aloud to a roomful of children. -- Carolyn Phelan (BookList)