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2010 Early Chapter Books: A Collection of Reviews

October 17, 2010

Extraordinary Ernie & Marvelous Maud
written by Frances Watts, illustrated by Judy Watson
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2010
early chapter book

Poor Ernie Eggers. He’s always wanted to be a superhero and now he’s got a chance except, his sidekick is . . . a sheep. He makes the best of it and with Maud at his side, the superhero team selects their outfits and names. Ernie becomes Extraordinary Ernie and Maud becomes Marvelous Maud. Sounds promising, doesn’t it?

When Ernie is buying bubble gum, Maud is attacked by a mean dog. What will Ernie do? Will he be able to save Maud? With a shopping cart? Of course!

Kids will love these quirky characters, Ernie and Maud. It’s a funny book filled with problems every child faces — bigger boys, mean dogs, a cute girl, and dreams of being a superhero.

Number One Kid (Zig-Zag Kids)
written by Patricia Reilly Giff, illustrated by Alasdair Bright
Wendy Lamb Books, 2010
early chapter book

I’ve read this book and the other Zig-Zag book, The Big Whopper, and I didn’t love either.  In fact, I was disappointed; I usually like Patricia Reilly Giff.

There are a lot of characters in the Zigzag School. This book focuses on Mitchell who is worried about not winning a prize on Prize Day – he doesn’t think he’s good at anything. To make matters worse, his sister, Angel, and an older boy tease him. Mitchell worries throughout the story. I thought the worry got excessive at times.

This book teaches valuable lessons like giving people a chance and learning to appreciate your talents. Those are good things to learn, even if I didn’t totally love the story.

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade
written by Stephanie Greene, illustrated by Stephanie Roth Sisson
Putnam, 2010
early chapter book

Posey is worried about first grade; especially worried since she’s not supposed to wear her tutu which helps her be brave, and lets her become Princess Posey. Her boy neighbors tell her all about “the Monster of the Blue Hall”  and snakes at the school. Posey is sort of sure they’re teasing but feels more worried than ever.

When Posey sees her new teacher, Miss Lee, in the grocery store, she is scared and tries to hide. Will Miss Lee understand and help Posey feel comfortable about school?

You’ll love the way Miss Lee helps Posey. She’s the kind of teacher everyone would want for first grade – wonderful and kind. This is a sweet book many girls will relate to.

Aggie the Brave
written by Lori Ries, illustrated by Frank Dormer
Charlesbridge, 2010
easy reader / early chapter book

Colorful illustrations match the basic sentences which tell the story of Aggie the dog who must go to the vet to get spayed, stay overnight and heal at home.  The story teaches about the process at the vet as well as what to expect – like the stitches and cone she must wear post-surgery.

I love the way the little boy owner imagines that Aggie is not a cone head but a LION.  (It’s so much less embarrassing!)

Finally, the healing is done.  “The vet gives her a meaty treat — a meaty treat for a brave lion.  Aggie loses her mane. / She runs and jumps. She circles my legs. / We play chase till it gets dark.”

For those children who own dogs, this book is sure to engage them, as well as the other children who love dogs and want a dog of their own.

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