Geisel 2006 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas by Cynthia Rylant

Henry and Mudge are off to visit Henry’s great-grandpa. He lives in a house with lots of other grandpas. The grandpas love it when Henry and Mudge visit. Henry and Mudge bring gifts and also give lots of love. After a swim in the pond by the grandpas’ house, everyone returns home for a big pot of spaghetti.

This four chapter beginning reader will allow readers to take breaks in between chapters if they need it. Some of the vocabulary is harder than most beginning readers (skivvies for example), but it’s immediately defined for Henry and subsequently for beginning readers as well. Lots of pictures supports the text and there’s still enough white space/non-text space for readers.

“Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas” is the twenty-sixth adventure of the pair and I have no doubt that the series has more volumes in it to come.


Honor: Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold

The first book in the Fly Guy series introduces both characters: Fly Guy and Buzz. Fly Guy meets Buzz one day and Buzz keeps Fly Guy as a pet since Fly Guy knows his name. This fun and humorous series is a great step-up for readers after they’ve finished Elephant and Piggie but continue to want funny stories.

Honor: A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom

When Bear meets Goose, he isn’t sure this is his kind of friend. Goose asks way too many questions when Bear is doing quiet activities. But when Goose brings back a note about how Bear is his ‘splendid friend’, Bear can’t resist tearing up. This is a wonderful picture book that definitely supports a beginning reader.

Honor: Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa spent the day together. They tell stories, surprise each other with gifts, count cows, and spend the night together in the barn. They are the best of friends and a really great team. This upper level beginning reader will attract horse lovers and readers almost ready to move on to chapter books.

Honor: Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day by Jean Van Leeuwen

Amanda Pig is having a really hot day. Every part of Amanda is hot, even her hair ribbons! Amanda tries to find a variety of ways to cool down: sitting under a tree, drinking and selling lemonade, and waiting for a cool breeze. This beginning reader series will appeal to all, but especially siblings because of the dynamics between Amanda and Oliver.

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.