Review: Biscuit Feeds the Pets

The Basics

Title: Biscuit Feeds the Pets
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
ISBN: 9780062236975
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: My First Shared Reading
Series: Biscuit (Biscuit, Biscuit Finds a Friend, Bathtime for Biscuit, Biscuit’s New Trick, Biscuit Wants to Play, Biscuit’s Big Friend, Biscuit Goes to School, Biscuit Wins a Prize, Biscuit and the Baby, Biscuit Visits the Big City, Biscuit’s Day at the Farm, Biscuit and the Little Pup, Biscuit Takes a Walk, Biscuit Meets the Class Pet, Biscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear, Biscuit Plays Ball, Biscuit in the Garden, Biscuit Loves the Library, Biscuit Goes Camping) & Biscuit Phonics Fun and Biscuit More Phonics Fun


Biscuit goes to help Mrs. Gray feed the pets she owns. But when Biscuit help free some of the other animals, things get pretty crazy. Will Biscuit find a way to help?

Easy text with a large font on a white or light tan background will give beginning readers easy access to the words of the story. I noticed that this font was much bigger and bolder than the other ten or so beginning readers on my desk. That makes this a superb choice for those just starting to read. There are just a few two syllable words in this volume other than Biscuit’s name. And the two syllable words (kittens, puppies, water, going) are easy to decode with support from the illustrations.

This was — believe it or not — my first regular Biscuit book! I’ve been recommending the series to very beginning beginning readers for years and I finally decided to sit down and read one myself. I will continue to recommend this series to patrons in the library and look forward to reading more. That being said, there are a lot of volumes of Biscuit and unless you need more easy beginning readers or have die-hard Biscuit fans, this might be an additional purchase if you already have most of the other books.

Review: Amelia Bedelia By the Yard

The Basics

Title: Amelia Bedelia By the Yard
Author: Herman Parish
ISBN: 9780062334282
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: Beginning Reading 1
Series: Amelia Bedelia


Amelia Bedelia’s mother loves garage sales. And when she stops by one, the whole family decides that they need to clean out the clutter in their own house. But will Amelia’s garage or yard actually get sold?

The text is mostly contained on white background, with a good size beginning reader font. Most of the words are either one or two syllables, though I counted about a dozen with three syllables. Every page has an illustration for text support, providing context clues to the reader. The illustrations are childlike and appropriate. While Amelia’s family appears to be white, there is some diversity in the other people that come to the garage sale.

As someone who grew up with classic Amelia Bedelia, I was hesitant when the new versions began releasing a few years back. Would the charm of Amelia Bedelia follow into these editions? I thought that it did. It’s a different kind of mix-ups, but one that today’s kids may relate to better. Especially when “garage sale” and “yard sale” do sound like you’re selling the area!

For libraries with a strong Amelia Bedelia crowd. May be an additional purchase if you already have some Amelias and do not have a core group of readers.

Review: Pete the Cat Scuba-Cat

The Basics

Title: Pete the Cat Scuba-Cat
Author: James Dean
ISBN: 9780062303899
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: My First Shared Reading
Series: Pete the Cat (Pete’s Big Lunch, Play Ball!, Pete at the Beach, Too Cool for School, A Pet for Pete, Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana, Pete the Cat’s Train Trip, Scuba-Cat, Sir Pete the Brave (June 2016))


Pete the Cat is on the lookout for a seahorse in this underwater adventure. Pete keeps meeting new ocean friends, but can’t find the elusive seahorse. Will they ever meet?

I thought that this Pete the Cat reader was a solid addition to the series. I miss the magic of the first Pete the Cat picture books but I can’t deny that Pete’s flexibility and attitude is great for a beginning reader to adopt. And familiar friends are always a solid choice to start a reader transitioning from picture books.

This story is really an identification game for kids to name ocean animals as Pete swims past. The catch is that the seahorse is behind Pete the whole time and I think that kids will really respond to that. It’s almost like an “I Spy” game that Pete keeps losing but that kids will keep winning.

As Pete goes deeper into the ocean, I felt like the text got a bit hard to read against the deeper blues. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something to keep in mind. Other than that, the text length was appropriate and potentially new animal vocabulary was supported by the illustrations.

For Pete fans, cat fans, ocean fans, and early beginning readers.

Review: What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush

The Basics

Title: What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush
Author: Emma J. Virján
ISBN: 9780062415288
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Pig in a Wig (What This Story Needs is a Pig and a Wig)


Pig is getting ready for bed when all of a sudden, animals appear in her bedroom making their favorite noises. Pig cannot sleep with all of that noise! Now this story needs a hush and a shush.

Flat out, I love these books. I love this series. I’m so excited that What This Story Needs is a Crunch and Munch will be joining the books later on this summer.

I think beginning readers will love this book because of the animal noises. I always tell parents in storytime that animal noises are some of children’s first words because the sounds are easier to start with. Beginning readers will know what sounds the animals are supposed to say through context clues and previous knowledge.

And I am still in love with the bright illustrations and bold color choices. I am really drawn to the art and my patrons are too. I think that this book in particular would make an excellent flannelboard. (Thrive After Three made the original Pig in a Wig.) I hope that there will be many more to come!

Review: Biscuit Phonics Fun & Biscuit More Phonics Fun

The Basics

Title: Biscuit Phonics Fun & Biscuit More Phonics Fun
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
ISBN: 9780061432040 & 9780062086532
Copyright Date: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read
Level: N/A
Series: Biscuit


Biscuit is a dog with lots and lots of friends to go on adventures with.

Each set of Biscuit Phonics focused on either short vowels (Phonics Fun) or long vowels (More Phonics Fun). Both sets have a total of twelve little books and one “Letter to Parents” resource guide. The twelve books consist of an introduction to Biscuit, two books on each vowel (a, e, i, o, u), and a review of short or long vowels depending on the set.

These books are hugely valuable for parents and teachers looking for guidance with beginning readers. I love the Letter to Parents because it addresses many concerns that parents have about their child starting to read. Both letters in the sets address learning about vowel sounds, sight words, picture clues, and has tips for parents to read with their child.

While the sets might be difficult to process for libraries, I think they are well worth the investment. Highly recommended.

Review: What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig

The Basics

Title: What This Story Needs in a Pig in a Wig
Author: Emma J. Virján
ISBN: 9780062327246
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Pig in a Wig (upcoming What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush & What This Story Needs in a Munch and a Crunch)


Pig in a wig needs a boat on a moat…but what she didn’t count on was a frog, dog, or log joining her. Her problems get worse as more animals and more items show up on her boat. What’s a pig to do?

Let me just say how much I absolutely adore this new reader. I was so enamored with it that I made three co-workers read it that day with me so that they could appreciate it. It has simplistic words that are supported by bold graphic illustrations. The amount of text on each page is exactly right for a beginning reader and the phonetics are wonderful.

I am so excited about the upcoming sequels (!!!) that I’m counting the days until January 26th and May 10th.

Add this one to every library collection!

Review: Mittens

The Basics

Title: Mittens
Author: Lola M. Schaefer
ISBN: 9780060546595
Copyright Date: 2006
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: My First Shared Reading
Series: (Mittens, Follow Me Mittens, What’s That Mittens?, Happy Halloween Mittens, Mittens Where’s Max, Mittens at School)


This book has a really simple storyline: Nick brings home a new kitten, but Mittens is scared in his new house. Can Mittens find a safe space?

I feel like this book series is the equivalent of Biscuit for cat lovers. I do really like that Mittens and Nick are boys though since this will increase readership for the series.

The text is large and easy to read. Sentences are short and there’s only one three syllable word: everything. This book is a great opportunity for shared reading between parent and child.

Recommended for public libraries who need low-level beginning readers.

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.

Review: Pinkalicious Cherry Blossom

The Basics

Title: Pinkalicious Cherry Blossom
Author: Victoria Kann
ISBN: 9780062245939
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read
Level: Level 1 Beginning Reading
Series: Pinkalicious (Pink Around the Rink, Pinkalicious and the Cupcake Calamity, Pinkalicious and the Pink Parakeet, Pinkalicious and the Pinkatastic Zoo Day, Pink-a-rama, The Pinkerrific Playdate, Pinkie Promise, The Princess of Pink Slumber Party, Puptastic!, School Rules!, Soccer Star)


Pinkalicious has been waiting for the cherry blossom festival so she can fly her kite. But when she has trouble getting her kite off the ground, will anyone help her?

I like to think of Pinkalicious as magical realism for beginning readers. After all, the original Pinkalicious story involves the protagonist turning pink after eating too many cupcakes. So I wasn’t surprised to read (in my first Pinkalicious reader!) a little magical transportation to Japan.

I was happy to see some diversity in Pinkalicious’s world, but the illustrations struck me as being on the smallest end of diversity. The Japanese characters look very much like Pinkalicious and her family except that they have slanted eyes and darker hair.

The text itself isn’t too difficult with its short sentences. Readers may stumble over some of the more difficult words like “festival” and “pinktastic”, and I expect that most will have trouble with the Japanese words “Sakura” and “mochi”. This is a Guided Reading Level J and a Lexile level 210.

A purchase for libraries who have Pinkalicious fan bases.

Review: Tug the Pup

The Basics

Title: Learn to Read with Tug the Pup and Friends (Box Set 1, 2, & 3)
Author: Dr. Julie M. Wood
ISBN: 9780062266897, 9780062266910,
Copyright Date: 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: My Very First
Series: So far, only the three reviewed here.


Box Set 1
Tug the Pup and his friends (Big Pig, Nat the Cat, and Pen Hen) have a variety of adventures ranging from what they like to do each day to catching fireflies to having a birthday party in the first box set.

Each book is numbered and if a child were to read them in order, they get progressively harder. Book one has sentences like “Big Pig can jump.”; book five has “This is Little Blue Farm.”; and book ten has “Zzzzz. Pen Hen is taking a nap.” The first four books each contain six simple sentences, while the later books range from eleven to sixteen sentences. (And yes, I am counting “Zzzzz.” as a sentence since it contains a period.

Box Set 2

In Box Set 2, there is an excellent book that talks specifically about rhyming: “Book 3: Rhyme Time” — that’s a great thing for children learning to read to practice. By the end of Box Set 2, Tug the Pup has gained a new friend, Sally the Snake. Book eleven has the highest sentence count at seventeen sentences and things are getting more complex with dialogue between the characters and higher difficulty in words.

Box Set 3

In Box Set 3, Tug the Pup has even more friends in these books: Crab, Dotty Duck, Sly Fox, Scram the Skunk, etc. Book eleven has the highest sentence count at thirty-two sentences, with a lot of complex dialogue and difficulty. At this point, the text has almost out-grown the tiny pages!


These books are a great addition to the beginning reader field. What makes these books special in my opinion are the parent guides (book twelve in each set). They have information on Common Core Standards, which I know is a great help to many of my patron parents. Also to note: the guide contains activities to complete before, during, and after reading. A cute incentive for parents who will be buying these books — they also have stickers inside to place in each book once the reader has mastered it. I took those out in the library’s editions.

Another added bonus for parents looking for guidance is that these books come already leveled under Guided Reading Levels. The first set is Levels A-C, the second set is C-E, and the third set is E-G. It’s perfect for parents who know their child’s level and for librarians who often hear, “My child is a B level. What should they read?”

All in all, I give Tug the Pup two very enthusiastic thumbs up! Highly recommended.