Review: Get a Hit, Mo!

The Basics

getahitmo
Title: Get a Hit, Mo!
Author: David A. Adler
ISBN: 9780670016327
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Reader Brand: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 2 Progressing Reader
Series: Mo Jackson (Don’t Throw It to Mo!)

Thoughts

Mo never gets a hit and is stuck playing right field. No balls ever come to right field. But every time Mo is at the plate, he has a chance to help his team. Will Mo ever get a hit?

This sequel to the 2016 Geisel Award Don’t Throw It to Mo! continues the story of Mo Jackson, the tiniest team member of both his football team and now his baseball team. I connected personally with Mo. I played right field for three years of T-ball and baseball and he’s right — no balls ever come to right field! (Lucky for me, I was so short that I basically didn’t have a strike zone.)

Things I love about this book: racial diversity and gender diversity (Mo’s coach is a woman!), relatable series, lots of repeated words and familiar words for sports fan.

Things I don’t love about this book: the contrast between background (green grass) and black words was not enough for me to feel comfortable, and the book ends with a neat bow again. Mo saves the day again. That kind of a set-up would bother me as a kid after a while. I hope that if there are future Mo books that he has to learn to lose as well.

Even with the minor flaws, recommended for public libraries.

Review: Clara and Clem Take a Ride

The Basics

claraandclemtakearide
Title: Clara and Clem Take a Ride
Author: Ethan Long
ISBN: 9780448462714
Copyright Date: 2012
Publisher: Penguin
Reader Brand: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 1
Series: Clara and Clem (Clara and Clem in Outer Space, Clara and Cleam Under the Sea)

Thoughts

Clara and Clem go on a ride through a variety of situation: up a mountain, in a tree, in the forest, etc. When they hit a pile of rocks, they decide their trip is done and it’s time to build something new with their blocks.

I just discovered this older series while going through the beginning readers at my library. It’s fabulous and imaginative! All of the books involve Clara and Clem building something to play with out of their blocks. I love seeing both brother and sister building with their blocks — great STEM series for beginning readers. These are similar to Elephant and Piggie in that they are told through dialogue only and the series also uses speech bubbles with different colors for Clara and Cleam.

Definitely buy these for your library and recommend them to very early beginning reader readers!

Review: Frances Dances

The Basics

francesdances
Title: Frances Dances
Author: Mark Iacolina
ISBN: 9780448479309
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin
Reader Brand: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 2
Series: N/A

Thoughts

Frances loves to dance…that is until her class is going to put on a performance in front of everyone. Can Frances overcome her stage fright with the help of her family?

This is a sweet story about a little girl’s stage fright. I like that her family supports her and shows her that they don’t mind other people seeing them dance so she shouldn’t. And I’m very drawn personally to the stick-figure-esque drawings. The stick-figures make it instantly kid-friendly and approachable. While this is a good beginning reader, I think there’s also a lot to infer here. Kids have to be able to realize that Frances doesn’t want people to see her dance from these simple sentences: “But she does not dance out the door. And she never dances at school.” I’m not sure that the earliest beginning readers will be able to get that on their own. Hopefully, parents will be close by to help.

Recommended for most libraries, particularly if you have a large dance fan population.

Review: The Tiny Seed

The Basics

thetinyseed
Title: The Tiny Seed
Author: Eric Carle
ISBN: 9781481435765
Copyright Date: 1987 (text), 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reader Brand: Ready to Read
Level: Level 2
Series: The World of Eric Carle

Thoughts

A tiny seed travels through the four seasons trying to grow into a plant. But animals want to eat him, another plant blocks him from the sun, and people can step on him or pick him — will he ever become a flower?

“The Tiny Seed” was originally published as a picture book in 1987. I was able to get a copy of both to compare as I read. The reader is trimmed down in length, but most notably possibly upsetting lines such as: “One seed falls into the water and drowns” was changed to “One seed falls into the water”. Additionally, the line “And the little plant dies” was also removed from the reader edition.

Overall, I think the large amount of text in the reader fills up too much of the page and there really isn’t enough white space to make this a successful beginning reader. It works much better as a picture book.

Review: In! Over! And On! (The Farm)

The Basics

inoverandonthefarm
Title: In! Over! And On! (The Farm)
Author: Ethan Long
ISBN: 9780399169076
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: N/A

Thoughts

Chicken, Cow, Goat, and Pig are learning all about prepositions in this humorous book similar to the 2013 Geisel Award Winner “Up, Tall, and High” by Ethan Long.

This book has an incredible ease about it. There are three stories that concentrate on each preposition one at a time. The flaps make for great fun and also help to explain the differences between in/out, etc. The illustrations are expressive and fun and I think that the book will get lots of laughs from kids.

While this book is shelved in picture books in my library because of its trim size, I’m considering buy a second one to keep in the reader section so that this title can be found by both audiences. Great for a read-aloud and great for beginning readers. Recommended.

Review: Cork & Fuzz Wait a Minute

The Basics

corkandfuzz-waitaminute
Title: Cork & Fuzz Wait a Minute
Author: Dori Chaconas
ISBN: 9780670014811
Copyright Date: 2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Reader Brand: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 3 Transitional Reader
Series: Cork & Fuzz (Best Friends, Short & Tall, Good Sports, The Collectors, Finders Keepers, The Babysitters, The Swimming Lesson, No Fooling, Wait a Minute, Spring Cleaning)

Thoughts

Cork knows how to wait, but Fuzz just knows how to be Fuzz — impatient to the core! When a yellow balloon enters the picture, the friends try to figure out what it is and it might involves waiting again.

A longer, multi-chapter reader that’s very reminiscent (to me) of Frog and Toad. These two friends are in many ways opposites like Frog and Toad and even more recently, Elephant and Piggie. This book features them working together to solve a problem.

This is definitely a title for older readers though. It’s a Guided Reading (Fountas & Pinnell) level J and a Lexile level of 320L. Recommended for libraries looking for more friend books to introduce to kids!

Review: Froggy is the Best

The Basics

froggyisthebest
Title: Froggy is the Best
Author: Jonathan London
ISBN: 9780448483818
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group/Penguin Random House
Reader Imprint: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 2 Progressing Reader
Series: Froggy (1st reader)

Thoughts

Froggy doesn’t know what he is the best at — kayaking? Surfing? T-ball? He spends a morning daydreaming about what he is the best at until finally he realizes it and goes off to do the activity he is best at!

This is a treat for fans of the Froggy series. Readers will see familiar activities from many of the beloved Froggy picture books and be able to journey with a familiar friend to a new world of reading on their own.

The vocabulary once again (like with Pig and Pug, another Level 2 Progressing Reader) starts off harder and gets easier as the book goes on. Readers will have unfamiliar words like “kayaking” and “surfing”, but the pictures help give context clues.

While it will never top my favorite Froggy book (Froggy Gets Dressed), I did enjoy the read. Recommended for Froggy fans everywhere!

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.

Books:

  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)

Difficulty

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

Thoughts

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!

Review: Max Finds an Egg

The Basics

maxfindsanegg
Title: Max Finds an Egg
Author: Wiley Blevins
ISBN: 9780448479941
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group/Penguin Random House
Reader Imprint: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 1 Emergent Reader
Series: Max (Max Has a Fish)

Thoughts

Max finds an egg and immediately begins waiting for what he thinks is a dinosaur to come out. He takes care of the egg, but when the egg finally hatches, Max does not get a dinosaur. But what he does get is a new friend.

This is a simple story with very basic vocabulary. The hardest words are “dinosaur” and “chicken” where the images give enough context clues for the reader to sound out those words. Max’s eyes are very dynamic and help convey the storyline for beginning readers.

This is a Fountas & Pinnell level C and it will be a good addition to libraries looking for the low-end of beginning readers.

Review: Pig and Pug

The Basics

pigandpug
Title: Pig and Pug
Author: Laura Marchesani and Zenaides A. Medina Jr.
ISBN: 9780448483436
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Penguin Group/Penguin Random House
Reader Brand: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 2 Progressing Reader
Series: N/A

Thoughts

Pig is the only pig on his farm. All the cows and chickens and sheep have friends to be with…but not Pig. That is until Pug arrives. All the other animals think that Pug is a pig. But can Pig and Pug learn to be friends?

First of all, I have to say how much I’m in love with the illustrations of this book. They are spot-on and so child friendly. The artist really uses the space in a perfect beginning reader. And Pig and Pug look just enough alike that it makes sense that the other animals think they are the same.

There are a lot of nicely built vocabulary opportunities and chances for readers to gain confidence as words are repeated. I felt like it was a fairly good balance; although the beginning of the book is more wordy which may turn off struggling readers or reluctant readers. I think the story is worth it though!

Penguin Young Readers books are leveled using Fountas and Pinnell and “Pig and Pug” is at an F level. (I really like that the books state this on the back on the cover — a good tip for librarians to remember if their patrons are looking for this specific leveling system!)

Overall, this is a recommended reader for all collections. I hope to see more of this happy duo soon!