Series to Know: Fancy Nancy

Series Info

The first five Fancy Nancy readers!

The first five Fancy Nancy readers!

Books:

  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

Difficulty

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).

Thoughts

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

pinkaliciouscherryblossom
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)

Thoughts

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

tugthepup
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.

Thoughts

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!

General

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.

Series to Know: Amelia Bedelia

Series Info

ameliabedelia

Books:

  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

Difficulty

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.

Thoughts

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:

ameliabedelia_herman

  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

youngameliabedelia

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.

Review: Splat the Cat & the Hotshot

The Basics

splatthecathotshot
Title: Splat the Cat and the Hotshot
Author: Laura Driscoll (based on the books by Rob Scotton)
ISBN: 9780062294166
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: Level 1 Beginning Reading
Series: Splat the Cat (Splat the Cat Makes Dad Glad, Splat the Cat Up In the Air at the Fair, Splat the Cat Blow Snow Blow, Splat the Cat A Whale of a Tale, Splat the Cat With a Bang and a Clang, Splat the Cat The Rain is a Pain, Splat the Cat The Name of the Game, Splat the Cat Takes the Cake, Splat the Cat and the Duck With No Quack, Splat the Cat Good Night Sleep Tight, Splat the Cat Sings Flat)

Thoughts

Splat the Cat is feeling upstaged when a new friend has all the answers at cat scouts. But when the new cat can’t fix a problem, Splat finds that he had talents of his own! The book’s ultimate message is about teamwork.

As with each book in the series, readers are working on a particular sound — “ot” in this case (Scott/Mott/lot/spot/knot/pot/forgot/hot/apricots/spot/rot/not/swat) — which gives readers time to work on their rhyming words. [Some of those may not rhyme depending on your geographical accent.]

The Splat books are a great “bridging” up book for children who loved the Splat the Cat picture books. They will be thrilled when they are able to read a Splat book all on their own. For me, personally, the Splat books leave me feeling a little underwhelmed (to be fair, the picture books also do). Sometimes the rhymes seem a bit forced and some of the words can be difficult for what I consider a “Level 1” reader to be.

Overall, the series is still hugely popular at my library and I will continue to connect kids to the Splat books and to purchase the readers. Recommended for libraries with cat fanatics or Splat fans.

Review: Penny and Her Doll

The Basics

pennyandherdoll
Title: Penny and Her Doll
Author: Kevin Henkes
ISBN: 9780062081995
Copyright Date: 2012
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, HarperCollins Publishers
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: Level 1 Beginning Reading
Series: Penny (Penny and Her Marble, Penny and Her Song)

Thoughts

Gram has sent Penny a doll. Penny loves her new doll, but struggles to figure out her new doll’s name.

Penny is great little character (true confessions: I have a stuffed Penny that I love to pieces), and I’m fearful that we may have seen the end of her since Penny and Her Marble was published nearly two years ago.

What works so wonderfully in the Penny series, in my opinion, are Henkes’s illustrations. His mice are so expressive that I even detect a hint of a side-eye from Mama when talk about her favorite weed. (Spoiler alert: Mama does not have a favorite weed.) It’s such a great asset to aide comprehension since the word difficulty is higher.

The book is told in three chapters which makes it more than manageable for a reader to do a chapter a night, or would even work as a family read-aloud. Definitely a recommended purchase for all libraries; please write/publish more Penny books!

Brand: I Can Read!

History

The “I Can Read” brand began in 1957 with the publication of Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear. For over fifty years, the “I Can Read” brand has published favorite friends and series from Amelia Bedelia to Pete the Cat.

Kathleen T. Horning writes in From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books:

While Seuss set the standard for excellence in writing, the “I Can Read” series set the standard for form. Recognizing that children learning to read are anxious to feel like “big kids,” Harper designed the books in their beginning reader series to look like skinny chapter books rather than picture book.

Leveling

“I Can Read” brand has six levels. The newest level — My VERY First — was created in 2014.

  • My VERY First — Basic features of print and reading, short and simple sentences, and full-color stories for children at the very first stages of learning to read.
  • Shared My First Reading — Basic language, word repetition, and whimsical illustrations, ideal for sharing with your emergent reader.
  • Level 1 Beginning Reading — Short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts for children eager to read on their own.
  • Level 2 Reading With Help — Engaging stories, longer sentences, and language play for developing readers who still need some help.
  • Level 3 Reading Alone — Complex plots, challenging vocabulary, and high-interest topics for the independent reader.
  • Level 4 Advanced Reading — Short paragraphs, chapters, and exciting themes for the perfect bridge to chapter books.

I’m a crazy statistics person, so I went through the Lexile and Accelerated Reader websites to give you an idea of how these programs [that I don’t necessarily agree with][1] compare to the “I Can Read” levels.[2]

Shared My First Reading:
Biscuit series had a 162L and 0.95AR average.
Pete the Cat series had a 192L and 1.4AR average.

Level 1 Beginning Reading:
Fancy Nancy series had a 315L and a 2.03AR average.
Splat the Cat series had a 398L and a 2.1AR average. [3]

Level 2 Reading With Help:
Amelia Bedelia series had a 364L and a 2.44AR average.
Flat Stanley series had a 376L and a 2.4AR average.

Level 3 Reading Alone:
Minnie and Moo series had a 378L and a 2.22AR average. [4]

Level 4 Advanced Reading:
Dinosaur Hunter had a 470L and 3.0AR score.

Lastly, I did not compare any guided reading levels (Fountas and Pinnell) since I do not have a subscription. But! “I Can Read” actually has a search by Guided Reading Levels available on their website, which is hugely helpful!

Characters and Authors

Screenshot of some of the “I Can Read” characters.

Familiar Characters Based on Picture Books: Amelia Bedelia (Young), Berenstain Bears, Biscuit, Diary of a Worm, Duck at the Door, Everything Goes (Brian Biggs), Fancy Nancy, Flat Stanley, Little Critter, Pete the Cat, Pinkalicious, and Splat the Cat.

Original Series: Axel the Truck, Charlie the Ranch Dog, Digger the Dinosaur, Dixie, The High-Rise Private Eyes, Huff and Puff, Mac and Cheese, Mia, Minnie and Moo, Mittens, Penny, Pony Scouts, Tug and Pup

Classics: Arthur (Hoban), Danny and the Dinosaur, Frances (Hoban), Frog and Toad, Little Bear, Prelutsky poetry collections

Comic Books: Batman Classic, Justice League Classic, Man of Steel, Superman Classic, Wonder Woman Classic

Media Tie-Ins: Alvin and the Chipmunks, Epic, Ice Age, Marley, Paddington, Plants Vs. Zombies, Rio 2, Walking With Dinosaurs

More Information

One of my favorite things that I discovered on the “I Can Read” site is in the Parents/Educators area — there’s a blog! There’s a fair amount of content here, including classroom resources and other tips for parents of beginning readers. The blog was just started in June of 2014 and it seems to be updated at least once a month.

“I Can Read” also has a great social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. They also have a Pinterest account, but it hasn’t been updated in a year. (Not that I can blame them — Pinterest is a trap!)

I also signed up for the “I Can Read” newsletter, but I had to sign up with my gmail account since it wouldn’t accept my work address as a valid email. (It is a little weird — it’s a .info extension.)

Notes

[1]:
I don’t think that assigning students to read within a certain level based on tests is beneficial. I believe all reading is good reading. That being said, these programs are based on text and sentence difficulty which is useful in trying to standardize reader levels across the various brands.

[2]:
The series chosen to evaluate were based on the series that “I Can Read” promotes on their levels page. For Level 3 & Level 4, there are no promoted series. Level 3 features two series: Minnie and Moo and the Jack Prelutsky poetry collections. Since no Lexile scores were available for the Prelutsky books (I KNOW, RIGHT?!), I chose to evaluate Minnie and Moo. Level 4 has only six books, so I just evaluated the first book as my sample size.

[3]:
Many of the Splat readers were Adult-Directed Lexile scores. I did not use those titles in the averages of the Lexile score.

[3]:
Some Minnie and Moo books were not labeled as Level Three readers, so I did not add those to the averages.