Series to Know: George and Martha

Series Info

The first five George and Martha readers written by James Marshall.

The first five George and Martha readers written by James Marshall.


  1. George and Martha (2007)
  2. George and Martha: Two Great Friends (2007)
  3. George and Martha: Round and Round (2008)
  4. George and Martha: The Best of Friends (2008)
  5. George and Martha: One More Time (2009)
  6. George and Martha: Rise and Shine (2009)
  7. George and Martha: One Fine Day James Marshall (2010)
  8. George and Martha: Full of Surprises (2010)

Links: Houghton Mifflin Harcout || Green Light Readers

Reviews: Horn Book,


Each volume has two to three classic George and Martha stories reproduced with smaller illustrations and (from my examination) little to no text changes. The stories vary in length and difficulty — some are incredibly easy for beginning readers and others include words like “flabbergasted”.

Accelerated Reader average was 2.03 based on six of the readers. Lexile only had scores available for one reader and it was scored at 470L. I looked at three books and found the following unique word counts: Two Great Friends at 140, Round and Round at 195, and Best of Friends at 177.


I’m not sure that these work at the best beginning readers. The humor and laughter from the original stories is there, but the complexity of the words and lack of consistency in the length of the stories may frustrate beginning readers.

More George and Martha?

The original picture books, of course!

  1. George and Martha (1972)
  2. George and Martha Encore (1973)
  3. George and Martha Rise and Shine (1976)
  4. George and Martha Full of Surprises (1976)
  5. George and Martha One Fine Day (1978)
  6. George and Martha Tons of Fun (1980)
  7. George and Martha Back In Town (1984)
  8. George and Martha Round and Round (1988)

Dates to Remember

Doesn’t look like there will be any more George and Martha beginning readers, but that makes sense as author James Marshall passed away in 1992.

Series to Know: Flip-a-Word

Series Info

The first five Flip-a-Word readers!

The first five Flip-a-Word readers!


  1. Snake Cake (2006, Out of Print)
  2. Pig Wig (2006, 2013)
  3. Snow Bow (2007, 2014)
  4. Stop Pop (2007, 2013)
  5. Wet Pet (2008, 2013)
  6. Quack Shack (2008, 2014)
  7. Crab Cab (2009, 2014)
  8. Ice Mice (2013)
  9. Frog Jog (2014)

Links: Blue Apple Books

Reviews: Horn Book, School Library Journal


A rather bizarre section to write this time because I did not find a single Accelerated Reader, Lexile, or Fountas & Pinnell level for any of these books. All of the books have very few words, between 20-35 unique words in the text. There are supplemental word lists and an activity page for kids to practice identifying sight words after the story, which I did not count in the unique word count.


These are the easiest of easy books for beginning readers. Flip-a-Word books are the ones that I give parents looking for those first readers for their kids.

Each book covers three different word families. There’s a reference page at the beginning of each book that encourages parents about how to help their children experiment with the different word family sounds — to create new words and sound combinations.

The graphic illustrations are eye-catching and clearly illustrate what is going on in the picture. It’s a great help to the kids working through their sounds and words.

More Flip-a-Words?/Dates to Remember

It’s been over a year since a title was released. Without a dedicated website for the series or author, it’s hard to tell what the future of this series is. My only recommendation is snap these titles up as soon as possible! Your patrons will thank you!

Series to Know: The World of Eric Carle

Series Info

The first five Eric Carle Ready to Read readers.

The first five Eric Carle Ready to Read readers.


  1. Have You Seen My Cat? (2012)
  2. The Greedy Python (2012)
  3. Pancakes, Pancakes (2013)
  4. Rooster Is Off to See the World (2013)
  5. A House for Hermit Crab (2014)
  6. Walter the Baker (2014)
  7. The Tiny Seed (2015)
  8. The Foolish Tortoise (2015)

Links: World of Eric Carle at Ready to Read || Eric Carle’s Website || Richard Buckley’s page at Simon & Schuster

Reviews: Horn Book (as readers)


All of these readers were published as picture books first. Some of the text has been altered and some words have been simplified. All of Carle’s art has been resized and the layout has occasionally changed to accommodate the larger traditional text of the beginning reader.

Lexile average was 560L based on three books, one of which (Pancakes, Pancakes) was Adult-Directed. Only one book (The Greedy Python) had a reader specific AR test at level 2.7. Many of the other titles have scores, but I only averaged in the scores that were specifically for the beginning readers since the text was changed from the originals. While each book does not have a Guided Reading Level (Fountas and Pinnell) assigned to it, the Ready to Read brand gives a range for each level which you can find here.

Interestingly enough, the World of Eric Carle books span three of the Ready to Read levels.
Pre-Level One (ranges from A, B, C, D, & E): Have You Seen My Cat?
Level One (ranges from F, G, & H): The Greedy Python, Pancakes, Pancakes, & Rooster is Off to See the World
Level Two (ranges from I, J, & K): A House for Hermit Crab, Walter the Baker, The Tiny Seed, & The Foolish Turtle


Is there ever enough Eric Carle? I don’t think so. However, the classic picture books will always be my favorite since they showcase his art much better than these trimmed down versions. Some of the books work well as beginning readers while others are best left in picture books.

More Eric Carle?

Penguin Young Readers Eric Carle readers.

Penguin Young Readers Eric Carle readers.

I’ve only tracked the Ready to Read brand above. There are also three Eric Carle readers available from Penguin Young Readers:

  1. The Very Lonely Firefly (2012)
  2. The Very Busy Spider (2014)
  3. The Very Quiet Cricket (2014)

The Very Quiet Cricket is a Level Three readers while the other two are both Level Twos readers. No Lexile scores were available for these readers, Accelerated Reader average was, the Level Two books were both Guided Reader (Fountas & Pinnell) level I and the Level Three book was Guided Reader (Fountas & Pinnell) level K.

Dates to Remember

I don’t have any for you to bookmark right now. It seems like the Ready to Read Eric Carles are published two a year in the spring. So keep an eye out for them in 2016!

Series to Know: Fancy Nancy

Series Info

The first five Fancy Nancy readers!

The first five Fancy Nancy readers!


  1. Fancy Nancy and the Boy from Paris (2008)
  2. Fancy Nancy at the Museum (2008)
  3. Fancy Nancy Sees Stars (2008)
  4. Fancy Nancy, Poison Ivy Expert (2008)
  5. Fancy Nancy and the Dazzling Book Report (2009)
  6. Fancy Nancy: The Show Must Go On (2009)
  7. Fancy Nancy: Pajama Day! (2009)
  8. Fancy Nancy and the 100th Day of School (2009)
  9. Fancy Nancy: Every Day is Earth Day (2010)
  10. Fancy Nancy: Spectacular Spectacles (2010)
  11. Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes (2010)
  12. Fancy Nancy: My Family History (2010)
  13. Fancy Nancy, Splendid Speller (2011)
  14. Fancy Nancy and the Mean Girl (2011)
  15. Fancy Nancy: Hair Dos and Hair Don’ts (2011)
  16. Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth (2012)
  17. Fancy Nancy: Fancy Day in Room 1-A (2012)
  18. Fancy Nancy: Too Many Tutus (2012)
  19. Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore (2013)
  20. Fancy Nancy: Just My Luck! (2013)
  21. Fancy Nancy: Peanut Butter and Jellyfish (2015)
  22. Fancy Nancy: Super Secret Surprise Party (2015)

Links: Fancy Nancy World || Page on “I Can Read” || Event Kits & Printables

Reviews: Horn Book & School Library Journal


Fancy Nancy is a Level One: Beginning Reading in the I Can Read brand. Level One is described as “Simple sentences for eager new readers.” Fancy Nancy books do have simple sentences, but they also have higher difficulty words and more sentences per page than other “level one” readers. (This is, of course, because the I Can Read brand also has two lower levels than Level One.)

All of Nancy’s new “fancy words” are included in a glossary with simple definitions. And all of the words are defined in the text with various takes on Nancy’s traditional: “That’s a fancy word for…”

“Your glasses are most becoming,” Ms. Glass says. That’s a fancy word I have never heard before. Ms. Glass says it means pretty.” Fancy Nancy and the Spectacular Spectacles

Most of the words will be challenging for beginning readers. I only took real offensive with the word “diorama” in Fancy Nancy: Peanut Butter and Jellyfish as being unnecessary. Although, Fancy Nancy fans expect to learn some new vocabulary in each book.

As for more sentences, Fancy Nancy and the Boy from Paris averages 4.15 sentences per page. When compared with other Level One brands: Pancakes, Pancakes from Ready to Read averages 1.95 sentences per page and Ice Cream Soup from Penguin Young Readers averages 2.09. Even even compared to another I Can Read Level One book: Pinkalicious Cherry Blossom has 3.59 sentences per page.

I only figured out unique words for one Fancy Nancy book: Fancy Nancy: Peanut Butter and Jellyfish. (Seriously, it was nearly an hour of work!) It has 278 unique words, which is a LOT for a beginning reader.

And for leveling: 329L for Lexile score (discounting the two Adult-Directed books) and 2.2AR for Accelerated Reader. Interestingly enough, beginning with Fancy Nancy: Too Many Tutus HarperCollins has included the Guided Reading levels (Fountas and Pinnell) on the back of the books. Too Many Tutus was level K while the rest are at level J (Just My Luck!, Apples Galore!, Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, and Super Secret Surprise Party).


Fancy Nancy is a solid beginning reader series for more advanced and confident readers. With more sentences, higher unique word counts, and the French pronunciations that occasionally appear, I would definitely recommend this to first graders and above.

Perfect for kids who love all things fancy but have exhausted the more traditional princess books, Nancy has so much more than just fanciness. She faces real-life challenges like holidays and events, friends and family problems, and fears/worries. I also love that she teaches new and harder vocabulary in an accessible way.

More Fancy Nancy?

Fancy Nancy (the original), one of the shorter hardcovers, and one of the 8x8 paperbacks.

Fancy Nancy (the original), one of the shorter hardcovers, and one of the 8×8 paperbacks.

Boy, are there ever!

Picture Books:

  1. Fancy Nancy (2005)
  2. Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy (2007)
  3. Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly (2008)
  4. Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words (2008)*
  5. Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire (2009)*
  6. Fancy Nancy Tea Parties (2009)*
  7. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas (2009)
  8. Fancy Nancy: Poet Extraordinaire (2010)*
  9. Fancy Nancy: Ooh La La It’s Beauty Day (2010)*
  10. Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique (2010)
  11. Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist (2011)*
  12. Fancy Nancy: Stellar Stargazer (2011)*
  13. Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet (2011)
  14. Fancy Nancy: Fanciest Doll in the Universe (2013)
  15. Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century (2014)

8×8 Picture Books (Paperback only):

  1. Fancy Nancy: Halloween or Bust! (2009)
  2. Fancy Nancy: Heart to Heart (2009)
  3. Fancy Nancy: Elegant Easter (2009)
  4. Fancy Nancy and the Sensational Babysitter (2010)
  5. Fancy Nancy and the Late, Late, LATE Night (2010)
  6. Fancy Nancy’s Marvelous Mother’s Day Brunch (2011)
  7. Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet (2011)
  8. Fancy Nancy: Tea for Two (2012)
  9. The first early chapter!

    The first early chapter!

  10. Fancy Nancy: JoJo’s First Day Jitters (2012)
  11. Fancy Nancy: There’s No Day Like a Snow Day (2012)
  12. Fancy Nancy: Puppy Party (2013)
  13. Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina (2013)
  14. Fancy Nancy: Sand Castles and Sand Palaces (2014)
  15. Fancy Nancy and the Fall Foliage (2014)
  16. Fancy Nancy: Spring Fashion Fling (2015)

Early Chapter Books:

  1. Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth (2012)
  2. Nancy Clancy, Secret Admirer (2013)
  3. Nancy Clancy Sees the Future (2013)
  4. Nancy Clancy, Secret of the Silver Key (2014)
  5. Nancy Clancy, Star of Stage and Screen (2015)

Dates to Remember

No readers are forthcoming, at least from what I know. I would guess that one more is likely to publish this year.

But there is a new early chapter coming out: Nancy Clancy, Soccer Mania on September 8th, 2015.

Series to Know: Mr. Putter & Tabby

Series Info



  1. Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea
  2. Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog
  3. Mr. Putter & Tabby Bake the Cake
  4. Mr. Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears
  5. Mr. Putter & Tabby Fly the Plane
  6. Mr. Putter & Tabby Row the Boat
  7. Mr. Putter & Tabby Toot the Horn
  8. Mr. Putter & Tabby Take the Train
  9. Mr. Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch
  10. Mr. Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish
  11. Mr. Putter & Tabby Catch the Cold
  12. Mr. Putter & Tabby Stir the Soup
  13. Mr. Putter & Tabby Write the Book
  14. Mr. Putter & Tabby Make a Wish
  15. Mr. Putter & Tabby Spin the Yarn
  16. Mr. Putter & Tabby See the Stars
  17. Mr. Putter & Tabby Run the Race
  18. Mr. Putter & Tabby Spill the Beans
  19. Mr. Putter & Tabby Clear the Decks
  20. Mr. Putter & Tabby Ring the Bell
  21. Mr. Putter & Tabby Dance the Dance
  22. Mr. Putter & Tabby Drop the Ball
  23. Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page

Links: Publisher Page || Author Site (Cynthia Rylant) || Illustrator Profile (Arthur Howard)

Reviews: Horn Book, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Jouranl

Awards: Geisel Honor 2015 (Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page)


A higher-level beginning reader series. Mr. Putter & Tabby books are told in multiple chapters that converge into a single storyline. Stories are simplistic and easy to understand: painting the porch, reading a book at the library, having a birthday, going on a boat, etc.

The series has a Lexile average of 467L and an Accelerated Reader average of 2.5. Most online resources put Mr. Putter & Tabby at Guided Reading Level J, although none of the books have the rating on the back covers. Make a Wish has 213 unique words and Pour the Tea has 194 unique words. This is a great series for 2nd graders.


I am not a cat person. I’m typing this while playing ball with one dog and another one laying at my feet. And yet…there is something so endearing about Mr. Putter and Tabby. I love the universal things they represent — we all want good company and companionship and that’s exactly what Mr. Putter and Tabby are.

More Mr. Putter & Tabby?

Give fans of Mr. Putter & Tabby either of Cynthia Rylant’s other beginning series: Brownie & Pearl, Henry & Mudge, or Annie & Snowball.

Dates to Remember

The past few years indicate a yearly release, sometime in the fall or winter.

Series to Know: Brownie & Pearl

Series Info



  1. Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay (2013)
  2. Brownie and Pearl See the Sights (2013)
  3. Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up (2014)
  4. Brownie and Pearl Step Out (2014)
  5. Brownie and Pearl Grab a Bite (2014)
  6. Brownie and Pearl Go For a Spin (2015)

Links: Brownie & Pearl on || Brownie & Pearl on S&S || Cynthia Rylant

Reviews: Horn Book (for the readers); School Library Journal & Horn Book (for the picture book versions)


This is a difficult Difficultly section to write about. All of the Accelerated Reader and Lexile scores available are for the picture book editions of the books. Average AR was 1.00 based on seven books and average Lexile was AD100L based on two books.

I looked at both the picture books and reader editions of the four following books: Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay, Brownie and Pearl See the Sights, Brownie and Pearl Step Out, and Brownie and Pearl Go for a Spin. Hit the Hay and See the Sights omit sentences from the picture books in the reader editions. “She is already snuggly.” from Hit the Hay and “Brownie gets her handbag. Pearl gets her mouse.” from See the Sights. Most of the books also change the contractions from the picture books to full words in the readers. Which is helpful, but does change the score potential for both AR & Lexile.


These are a great beginning reader series and I think it was a very smart move to re-publish them as readers. The picture books are lovely and I do miss the full panel illustrations in some spreads, but the text was always a beginning reader text to me.

I’m not sure is there are any plans for more Brownie and Pearl released as only readers. I can imagine that a child who is already familiar with the picture books will not find any real challenge in the readers, especially if they have the storyline memorized.

More Brownie and Pearl?

Well, original Brownie and Pearl:

  1. Brownie and Pearl Step Out
  2. Brownie and Pearl Get Dolled Up
  3. Brownie and Pearl See the Sights
  4. Brownie and Pearl Take a Dip
  5. Brownie and Pearl Make Good
  6. Brownie and Pearl Grab a Bite
  7. Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay
  8. Brownie and Pearl Go For a Spin

These were originally published from 2009 to 2012. The readers began in 2013.

Dates to Remember

It looks like a paperback set will be coming out on October 13, 2015. I just hope that they also release the last two Brownie and Pearl adventures in reader format, too!

Series to Know: Amelia Bedelia

Series Info



  1. Amelia Bedelia
  2. Thank You, Amelia Bedelia
  3. Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower
  4. Come Back, Amelia Bedelia
  5. Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia
  6. Good Work, Amelia Bedelia
  7. Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia
  8. Amelia Bedelia Helps Out
  9. Amelia Bedelia and the Baby
  10. Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping
  11. Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia
  12. Amelia Bedelia’s Family Album

Links: Amelia Bedelia website || Amelia Bedelia publisher site || Amelia Bedelia Facebook || Amelia Bedelia Twitter

Reviews: School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, Horn Book


I grew up reading the classic Amelia Bedelia books. They were one of my first reader series. As a child, I never thought that the words were too difficult or that Amelia’s mix-ups were hard to understand. As an adult, I think that the classic Amelia books are definitely appropriate for readers. But they are most appropriate for shared reading or for older readers. (In the “I Can Read” brand, they are listed as Level 2: Reading With Help.)

Some of the words or phrases have become outdated — like when Amelia is directed to “draw the drapes” or “put out the lights” — but this is a great way to develop some new vocabulary.

The classic Amelia books have an average Lexile of 193 and an average Accelerated Reader of 2.2. All of the original twelve books have Lexile and AR ratings.


This series has a wonderful pull with today’s parents because it’s the series that they (like me) might have read as children. I constantly see new children being introduced to Amelia Bedelia all the time and I don’t see her staying power waning any time soon.

I think that the way Amelia makes mistakes makes her totally appealing for children, who often struggle with finding their own way and figuring out their own mistakes. I think the humor is still accessible, though again it might require a bit of explanation.

More Amelia?

Oh, man. Is there more Amelia? YOU BET.

After Peggy Parish’s death in 1988, her nephew Herman Parish took over the Amelia Bedelia series with these volumes:


  1. Good Driving, Amelia Bedelia
  2. Bravo, Amelia Bedelia!
  3. Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor
  4. Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia
  5. Amelia Bedelia, Bookworm
  6. Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia
  7. Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist?
  8. Amelia Bedelia Under Construction
  9. Amelia Bedelia’s Masterpiece
  10. Amelia Bedelia and the Cat
  11. Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey
  12. Amelia Bedelia Bakes Off
  13. Go West, Amelia Bedelia
  14. Amelia Bedelia, Cub Reporter

These seemed to be published simultaneously published in both a picture book format and a beginning reader format. Their difficulty ratings were 342L based on 12 books and 2.7AR based on 14 books.

He also wrote these picture book special editions:

  1. Amelia Bedelia and the Christmas List
  2. Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School
  3. Be My Valentine, Amelia Bedelia


The last “classic” Amelia published in 2012. Then came Young Amelia Bedelia, first with picture books:

  1. Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School
  2. Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine
  3. Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie
  4. Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip
  5. Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote
  6. Amelia Bedelia’s First Library Card

Then a beginning reader series:

  1. Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend
  2. Amelia Bedelia Sleeps Over
  3. Amelia Bedelia Hits the Trail
  4. Amelia Bedelia Tries Her Luck
  5. Amelia Bedelia Joins the Club
  6. Amelia Bedelia Chalks One Up

Difficulty: 414 Lexile based on 5 books and 2.5AR based on 6 books.

And finally, Parish introduced Amelia Bedelia early chapter books:

  1. Amelia Bedelia Means Business
  2. Amelia Bedelia Unleashed
  3. Amelia Bedelia Road Trip
  4. Amelia Bedelia Goes Wild
  5. Amelia Bedelia Shapes Up
  6. Amelia Bedelia Cleans Up

Dates to Remember

The next beginning reader “Amelia Bedelia Is For the Birds” publishes on April 21st, 2015.

The next early chapter “Amelia Bedelia Sets Sail” publishes July 7th, 2015.

Series to Know: Cowgirl Kate & Cocoa

Series Info



  1. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa
  2. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Partners
  3. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: School Days
  4. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Rain or Shine
  5. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Horse in the House
  6. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies

Links: Author Site || Teacher’s Guide

Awards: 2006 Geisel Honor (Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa), 2010 Cybils Finalist (Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies), 2008 Monarch Nominee (Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Partners)

Reviews: School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book, Library Media Connection


These are definitely your upper-end beginning readers, perfect for the kids developing confidence on their own but still feeling overwhelmed by an early chapter series like Magic Treehouse or Junie B. Jones.

The book feature integrated text and images, short sentences with building vocabulary, and dialogue. The first book has words that are harder and more complex (thirsty was one that stood out to me), as well as a fair amount of ranching terminology (rope, pasture, cowhorse, etc.) which may require a bit more work for readers unfamiliar with horses.

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa books contain four short chapters, each one tells a complete story. I broke down the first book by chapter: A Story for Cocoa has 101 unique words, The Surprise has 92 unique words, Counting Cows has 101 unique words, and Bedtime in the Barn has 116 unique words.

Every book in the series is available on both Lexile and Accelerated Reader: average of 352L and 2.3AR.


I think this series is a good choice for readers that have moved on from Henry and Mudge or Elephant and Piggie. The difference here is that Kate and Cocoa’s relationship switches from feisty to caregiving; with both cowgirl and cowhorse taking care of the other at one point or another.

The books also work well as a read-aloud, each chapter can be done at a single reading. Bedtime in the Barn would make a particularly timely bedtime story, with the potential to make parents laugh as Cocoa pulls the “I’m hungry”, “I’m thirsty” cards to stay up later.

More Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa?


In the last few years, Houghton Mifflin has re-released some of the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa stories under their Green Light Readers series. Each “new” book contains two stories from the previously released book. Lexile levels are slightly up at 365L based on 4 books and Accelerated Reader is down slightly with 2.2AR based on 2 books.

Dates to Remember

Nothing that I can see on the horizon, though I hope we haven’t seen the last of this dynamic duo.

Series to Know: Thingy Things

Series Info

The four republished Thingy Things books.

The four republished Thingy Things books.


  1. Sluggly Slug (2000)
  2. Wormy Worm (2000)
  3. Goosey Goose (2000)
  4. Snaily Snail (2000)
  5. Whaley Whale (2000, 2014)
  6. Lamby Lamb (2000, 2014)
  7. Doggy Dog (2000, 2014)
  8. Moosey Moose (2000, 2014)
  9. Cowy Cow (2014)
  10. Crabby Crab (2014)
  11. Buggy Bug (2014)
  12. Clammy Clam (2014)

Publisher: Originally published by Hyperion (books went out-of-print in 2006); acquired by Abrams Appleseed for redistribution in 2014

Links: Publisher’s Weekly on Abrams Acquiring Thingy Things

Awards: N/A

Reviews: Horn Book (both original and revised editions)


So, let’s talk about why I consider these readers instead of picture books (the library world largely agrees with shelving these in picture books, according to my consortium).

The page spreads are ideal for the youngest of beginning readers; the illustration is on the left and the text is on the right. It’s rare to find a picture book that would not utilize both pages at least once in the book. The text is large and fairly easy to read. (It would be easiest on a white background though — point made.)

Words are introduced gradually. I’m thinking particularly of “Lamby Lamb” where Lamby Lamb is told not to put on his pants, shirt, coat, and hat on separate pages. The phrase “Don’t put on your ____” is repeated over and over again with one slight variation of “Don’t remember your umbrella” as the last page of Lamby Lamb getting dressed. While ‘remember’ and ‘umbrella’ are harder words for beginning readers, the illustrations give the context clue for umbrella.

I also think that the trim size of the book gets lost in picture books. I’ve worked at a library with spine-out shelving and and a library with face-out bin shelving. These books (also Peter Rabbit & the Mr. Men and Little Miss books) get hidden behind the more standard sized picture books. In readers though, this trim size is just perfect for kids to hold on their own.

Finally, these aren’t daunting in the least. They are easily worked through in one sitting, with or without an adult’s help depending on the reader. It’s why I think they are ideal beginning readers.


I already discussed a lot of what I would normally say in difficulty under the first section, so this one will mostly be hard statistics.

“Lamby Lamb” has 22 unique words and is only 24 pages long. The other books are similar: “Whaley Whale” has 17 unique words. “Crabby Crab” has 31 unique words and “Clammy Clam” has only six!

None of the books have been Lexiled, but three of them do have AR tests. The range of AR difficulty is between 0.7-1.1.


What resonates so much for me with these books are their spot-on child humor. Doggy Dog doesn’t know what he is — a cat or a lampshade? Whaley Whale is hiding in plain sight. Lamby Lamb falls victim to reverse psychology and gets ready. Sluggy Slug does not want to move and loves saying NO!

I’m so ridiculously glad that Abrams has brought these little gems back in-print. And I think a thousand more libraries need to order them so that we can get the last four re-printed and maybe even more at the article above mentions is a possibility.

Dates to Remember

None at the moment. I am hoping that Abrams will re-release the last four previously released titles. I’ll keep you posted if I hear word of it!

Series to Know: Elephant & Piggie

Series Info

The first five books in the “Elephant and Piggie” series.


  1. Today I Will Fly! (2007)
  2. My Friend Is Sad (2007)
  3. I Am Invited to a Party! (2007)
  4. There Is a Bird On Your Head (2007)
  5. I Love My New Toy (2008)
  6. I Will Surprise My Friend (2008)
  7. Are You Ready to Play Outside? (2008)
  8. Watch Me Throw the Ball (2009)
  9. Elephants Cannot Dance (2009)
  10. Pigs Make Me Sneeze (2009)
  11. I Am Going! (2010)
  12. Can I Play Too? (2010)
  13. We Are In a Book! (2010)
  14. I Broke My Trunk! (2011)
  15. Should I Share My Ice Cream? (2011)
  16. Happy Pig Day! (2011)
  17. Listen to My Trumpet (2012)
  18. Let’s Go for a Drive (2012)
  19. A Big Guy Took My Ball (2013)
  20. I’m a Frog! (2013)
  21. My New Friends Is So Fun (2014)
  22. Waiting Is Not Easy! (2014)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Links: Pigeon Presents Elephant & Piggie [2013 Party Kit] || World of Elephant & Piggie [Kit] || Author Site

Awards: 2008 Geisel Medal (for There Is a Bird On Your Head), 2009 Medal (for Are You Ready to Play Outside?), 2011 Geisel Honor (for We Are In a Book!), 2012 Geisel Honor (for I Broke My Trunk!), 2013 Geisel Honor (for Let’s Go For a Drive), 2014 Geisel Honor (for A Big Guy Took My Ball), 2015 Geisel Honor (for Waiting Is Not Easy!), 2009 Monarch Nominee (for Today I Will Fly!), 2013 Monarch Nominee & Second-Place Award (for We Are In A Book!), 2008 Cybils Award (for I Love My New Toy & 2008 Cybils Finalist (for I Will Surprise My Friend!), 2009 Cybils Award (for Watch Me Throw the Ball!), 2010 Cybils Award (for We Are In a Book!), 2011 Cybils Award (for I Broke My Trunk!), 2013 Cybils Finalist (for A Big Guy Took My Ball!), 2014 Cybils Finalist (for My New Friend Is So Fun!)

Reviews: Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Library Media Connection Reviews


Elephant & Piggie is one of the first series you should point beginning readers to. Stories are easy to understand through Willems’s expressive illustrations. One of my favorite ways the books help children to understand dialogue is that Gerald(Elephant)’s words are always in a gray speech bubble while Piggie’s are always in pink. When other characters are introduced, each character has their own colored speech bubble as well.

The series builds vocabulary as it goes on. In Today I Will Fly!, readers first learn “fly” and then “flew” and “flying” later on in the story. I think this is particularly helpful for beginning readers who might be struggling to understand past/present tenses.

The first Elephant and Piggie book, Today I Will Fly! has 41 unique words while the most recent, Waiting Is Not Easy! has 72 unique words. As with every series, the range of unique words and difficulty level can fluctuate, so I’ve provided the Lexile range and Accelerated Reader ranges. Series range for Lexile: 0(BR)-240 and Accelerated Reader: 0.5-1.3.

[This is a case where I feel that Lexile & AR may be doing beginning readers a great disservice by having such low ranges. A lot of beginning readers may test out of the ranges far before they are ready to leave Piggie and Gerald behind.]


I feel like this is a case where I cannot be unbiased. Elephant and Piggie feel like dear friends to me after I’ve seen how the kids at both of my libraries adore them.

The humor in these books is funny to both children and adults. I have seen a room of kids crack up at “Banana!” in We Are In a Book! when just a few hours ago the librarians were in stitches practicing our reader’s theater version of the same scene. (And speaking of reader’s theater — if you’ve never done these books as a reader’s theater piece, you are missing out. We just read Waiting Is Not Easy as a form of stress relief during our last department meeting because we’re changing our ILS.)

As with all series, I know that other readers have felt like some of the sparkle of Elephant and Piggie may be leaving. I, personally, do not feel that way. I thought for a brief moment that Waiting Is Not Easy might have become my new favorite this past month, but I still think the joy of “Banana” cannot be topped.

Dates to Remember

I Will Take A Nap! — the next installment in the series — will be out on 6.2.15! Mark your calendars now!