Elementary – King & Kayla; Last Firehawk; Mama Lion; Avengers

Butler, Dori Hillestad. King and Kayla and the Case of the Mysterious Mouse. Peachtree, 2017. 978-1-56145-879-0. $14.95. 48 p. Gr. 1-3.

King is a dog, and Kayla is his human. King is the narrator of this entry level mystery series. King loves to play fetch with his ball, but one day King ends up with a ball that looks like his, but definitely is not his ball. Determined to find his ball, King starts investigating. A stray cat tells King Mouse took the ball. King tries to imagine just exactly how a mouse could take his ball. Kayla is also trying to solve the mystery, but King can’t wait for her. He escapes, gets into the yard next door, and follows his nose right through the doggie door, where he meets a large dog named Mouse. Luckily, both dogs agree playing together is great! THOUGHTS:  Each page is liberally illustrated, including may full page illustrations. With spunky King as narrator, this book is sure to delight many a new reader who wants a “chapter book”.   

Mystery      Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District


Charman, Katrina. The Last Firehawk.  Scholastic, 2017. $4.99 ea. 90pp. Gr. 1-3.

The Ember Stone. 978-1-338-12213-8.

The Crystal Caverns. 978-1-338-12251-0.

Small owl Tag yearns to be an Owl of Valor and prove his braveness. While he is too small to face battle, he unexpectedly gets an opportunity to show his mettle. When Tag and his squirrel friend Skyla accidentally stray far from home, they find an unusual egg that hatches into a firehawk, a mystical bird thought to be extinct. With the land under attack from Thorn, an evil vulture, the three friends are sent on a quest to recover the scattered pieces of the magical Ember Stone, which, when reassembled, will hopefully be strong enough to defeat Thorn. THOUGHTS:  These liberally illustrated books have enough text to provide a satisfying plot for young readers not yet ready for Erin Hunter’s Warriors series.  

Fantasy      Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor School District


Muth, Jon J. Mama Lion Wins the Race. Scholastic Press, 2017. 978-0-545-85282-1. Unpaged. $17.99. PreK-Gr. 2.

It is race day, and Tigey and Mama Lion are vying for the big trophy.  In order to win, they must beat other characters like the Flying Pandinis, the Knitted Monkey crew, and Bun Bun.  However, as they fly through the countryside in their vintage cars, Tigey will soon learn that winning may not be everything.  The beauty of the world, the significance of kindness, and the value of friendship can be appreciated regardless of whether they win or lose.  Gorgeous illustrations, complete with cameos by well-known characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Mo Willems’ Pigeon, complement this sweet story with an important message for young children.  THOUGHTS: Teaching children to be kind and compassionate towards others is a lesson that will never become obsolete.  This book, full of lovable characters, will serve as a great discussion starter for such a lesson. After reading the story, students could brainstorm acts of kindness that would be possible for them to do for others.  This pleasant story would make a great addition for any library that serves young readers.

Picture Book       Julie Ritter, Montoursville Area SD


Glass, Calliope. Avengers: Ms. Marvel’s Fists of Fury. Marvel Press, 2017. 9781484781463. $17.95. 128 pp. Gr. 3-5.

Ms. Marvel has to fight bird creatures in this graphic chapter book. Kamala Khan is your average young, female Muslim girl from New Jersey. When she walked through an unusual mist she developed superpowers, like the ability to stretch her legs and super strength, that she now uses to protect the citizens of Jersey City while trying to do well in school. Ms. Marvel has a big biology test she needs to study for so, thankfully, Thor turns up to help her solve the avian crime spree led by the half-bird Super Villain, The Inventor. In the story, Kamala must deal with real-life relationship issues with her good friend, Nakia since she doesn’t know her friend is a superhero. Hijab-wearing, Nakia, doesn’t understand why Kamala blows off her texts and their Biology test study date and Kamala isn’t free to tell her the truth. Thor helps her to accept her faults and to learn to accept her friends’ help.  THOUGHTS: Ms. Marvel’s foray into chapter books for younger readers is a good way to introduce younger readers to the Marvel universe of characters and especially to the young, female, Muslim superhero, Ms. Marvel, who saves the people in Jersey City, NJ. A male Avenger superhero, Thor, shows up in this story to keep certain young male readers interested.

Juvenile Comic/Graphic Novel              Bridget Fox, Central Bucks SD


Early Chapter Books – Geronimo Stilton; Rainbow Magic; Silver Pony Ranch

Stilton, Geronimo. Mouse Overboard! New York: Scholastic, 2016. 978-0-545-87251-5. 107 pp. $ 6.99. Gr. 2-4.

In another installment of this wildly popular Scholastic series, Geronimo Stilton is invited to Lisbon, Portugal, to retrace the journey of the famous explorer Vasco de Gama.  With a mix of fun fonts, lots of graphics and mystery, Geronimo and his friends set out on their adventure.  Along the way, the reader learns the history of Lisbon, facts about Vasco de Gama and his explorations, and even some geography with maps of de Gama’s voyages.  Of course Geronimo has lots of silliness and sabotage to overcome too!  THOUGHTS: This series is great for the early reader.  The author does include a lot of history and geography and this could possibly be used in conjunction with a unit on early explorers.

Early Chapter Book      Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Meadows, Daisy. Julia the Sleeping Beauty Fairy. New York: Scholastic, 2016. 978-0-545-85189-3. 65pp. $4.99. Gr. 2-4.

Rachel and Kirsty are excited for their stay at the Tiptop Fairy Tale Castle.  But when they meet Hannah the Happy Ending Fairy again, they know that their stay will be even more magical!  Hannah turns them both into fairies, and they go to visit the nearest fairy village.  There they meet the Fairy Tale Fairies.  But when they try to read the book of fairy tales the fairies give them as a gift, they realize that it is empty!  Jack Frost and his evil goblins have stolen the fairies’ magical items, and the girls must help them recover them, or the fairy tales will be lost or changed forever!  Can they help Julia the Sleeping Beauty Fairy recover her magic jewelry box and save the story of Sleeping Beauty?  THOUGHTS:  These magical series fiction books will captivate the early reader crowd and keep them reading!  The combination of adventure and fairies will keep them coming back for more. This book is one of seven in a series.

Early Reader Chapter Book      Donna Fernandez, Calvary Christian Academy


Green, D.L. Silver Pony Ranch: Sweet Buttercup. New York: Scholastic Branches, 2016. 978-0-545-79770-5. 90pp. $15.99. Gr. 1-3.

Tori and Miranda love staying with their Gran on the Silver Pony ranch.  They especially love to ride their ponies Jewel and Buttercup.  Gran tells them that there will be a horse show in just four days and the girls decide to compete.  As they are preparing for the show, a new girl and her family come to stay on Gran’s ranch.  Ashley is not very nice.  She brags a lot about her riding abilities and her ranch back home.  She is also going to compete and is sure that she will win the ribbon for horsemanship.  Tori must figure out how to deal with Ashley in a way that is kind while still working hard to train for the show.  The girls create their own sparkly costumes and practice every day before the competition.  Will their hard work pay off?  Will Ashley’s criticism and bragging about her abilities win her a ribbon?  THOUGHTS:  This early chapter book is part of the Scholastic Branches series that is a bridge between the easy reader and more difficult and longer chapter books.  Horse books are always in high demand in our library, so I can see this set being popular with those emerging readers.  This is book two in a two book series.  Book one is Silver Pony Ranch: Sparkling Jewel.

Early Chapter Book      Donna Fernandez , Calvary Christian Academy

Animals All Around…Owl Diaries; Geronimo Stilton; The Bear Ate Your Sandwich; The Bus Ride


Elliott, Rebecca.  Owl Diaries:  Eva’s Treetop Festival.  New York:  Scholastic, 2015.  978-0-545-68362-3.  $4.99.  Gr. 1-3.

Eva Wingdale is an owl who loves drawing, going to school, and her new diary.  On the first day of spring, the owlet offers to organize the first ever Treetop Owlementary Bloomtastic Festival.  With the event only seven days away, Eva’s not sure she can get everything done in time, so she asks for help from her fellow classmates.  Eva’s Treetop Festival, as well as the other books in this series, is written in diary format with speech bubbles.  Each chapter includes lively and bright colored illustrations.  THOUGHTS:  This is a great choice for those readers who are too old for picture books, but too young for a more advanced chapter book.

Fantasy (Easy Chapter Book)      Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




Stilton, Geronimo.  Back in Time:  The Second Journey Through Time.  New York:  Scholastic, 2015.  978-0-545-74618-2.  $14.99. Gr. 3-6.

In this installment of the Geronimo Stilton series, everyone’s favorite mouse is offered a chance to travel back in time with Professor Paws von Volt in his time machine.  Geronimo travels through time and visits Ancient Rome, the great Mayan Empire, and the Palace of Versailles.  Geronimo Stilton is one of the most requested series in my library, and it’s easy to see why.  This book is filled with bright and vibrant illustrations, a great storyline, and additional information to expand on the various nonfiction topics.  THOUGHTS: Geronimo Stilton is an especially  good choice for those reluctant readers and students who enjoy graphic novels.  This book is recommended for any children’s or elementary school library.

Fantasy; Historical Fiction           Anastasia Hanneken, School Lane Charter School




DuBuc, Marianne. The Bus Ride. Tonowanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2015 (English translation). unpaged. $15.95. Gr Pre-K – 1.

A trip through the woods to Grandmother’s house never looked so fun, especially when the granddaughter travels on an animal filled bus. Full of clever characters who come and go from the interior view of the bus, the girl’s trip is quick and entertaining. For a simple example, watch how the sloth or the fox interact with others. The sparse first person text makes it easy for readers to participate, but there are subtle gaps in the story between the pages which invite speculation and prediction and closer rereading. The Bus Ride is a charming trip in many ways. THOUGHTS: There really are a lot of ELA terms that classrooms could seek from this book. There are behavior lessons as well, such as sharing and not stealing, but apparently talking to animal strangers is accepted! Readers who check in her basket are left wondering if this girl has a familiar fairy tale reference, which makes the story even more delightful!

Easy Fiction/Picture Book   Dustin Brackbill, Mount Nittany Elementary




Sarcone-Roach, Julia. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 2015. 34 unnumbered pages. $16.99. Grades K-3.

The title of this colorful picture book implies a simple open and shut case, but there is a creative story between the pages. The unreliable narrator describes the cheerful misadventure of a bear who wanders beyond his forest and ends up downtown. He is mostly unnoticed until he stumbles upon a tasty sandwich, gets caught, and escapes back home. Except the witnesses may know more, even if they aren’t telling. The acrylic illustrations and sparse text make this a sneaky success for young readers.  THOUGHTS: This book would be great as an intro to a writing prompt or a good suggestion for readers who love Jon Klassen books. The use of an “unreliable narrator” is a growing trend in YA and adult lit, but there is delight in letting young readers play with the story this way.

Easy Fiction/Picture Book   Dustin Brackbill, Mount Nittany Elementary