Librarian-approved fun chapter books and series for early elementary readers.
Aven Green does not have arms. They weren’t pulled off in a particularly ruthless game of tug of war, or blow off by a firecracker, she was just born that way - “I know, boring stuff” she tells us on page 2, “but it’s the truth.” Now that that explanation is out of the way, we can focus on the much more interesting stuff. Like the sheer amount of mysteries in elementary school that need solving: The mystery of the cereal in my underpants, or the mystery of Emily’s missing glue stick, or the even bigger mystery of King Smith’s - her neighbor’s dog - disappearance. And also missing - her teacher’s lunch box and a whole tray of tater tots from the school cafeteria… could they be related?? Aven is sleuthing to discover the truth. Taking meticulous notes in her new notebook, dusting for fingerprints, and paying attention to all of the clues (while also planning for a very exciting sleepover next Saturday with her best friend.) Readers will love Aven. Her enthusiasm, her curiosity, and the normalcy of how she navigates daily life with her feet, casually slipping off her sparkly ballet flat to pick up her pencil and jot something down. If readers love this first book (and they will!) that have two more installments to look forward to and a middle grade novel to grow into!
“All of us do things we wish we hadn’t done,” reads the first line of the Best of Iggy. Especially when we are 9 years old. Some things really aren’t so bad, we just wish we hadn’t gotten caught. Some things aren’t so bad, but we probably shouldn’t have taken things quite so far. But some things, we just really really wish we hadn’t done. Iggy does all of these things, with all the hilarity you might expect, but also with the understanding and humility that comes after. We all make mistakes, that is what being a kid is all about! And Iggy is an amazing kid. If you love Iggy as much as I do, you’ll be excited to learn this is the first of a series about this wonderful and relatable character.
Catalina pays attention to details. What time it is, how her books are arranged, how her sister adjusts her weight just so to the back of her skateboard to make it flip artfully onto the curb. Quisquillosa, her mom says, persnickety. Sometimes, this trait can hold Catalina back, being too worried about being perfect the first time to try something and fail. But other times it helps her see things that others have missed - it is exactly the trait her Tia Abuela admires most in her and the reason why Tia Abuela hands down a magical family heirloom to Catalina on her birthday, a sewing kit. But “The magic is only as strong as your stitches,” and the only way to get better is to practice! This is a wonderfully delightful book of magical realism. Who doesn’t want a magically stitched hoodie that can turn them into a cat? Young readers will instantly relate to Catalina and her fears of trying something new, especially with everyone else watching, and revel in her successes, even when they start small.
Juana and her best furry amigo, Lucas, are back for a third installment of this sweet series. But everything is about to change! Juana’s mom is expecting a new baby sister and when complications arise, Juana is left to more independently navigate new spaces including making new friends are skating camp and staying with her Abuela and Abuelo while her parents are in the hospital. Juana has a lot to learn about being a big sister, but through all the new experiences, we watch her blossom and grow. We were so excited to see a new book in this series in 2021! If you haven’t had time to find the others Juana & Lucas, and Juana & Lucas Big Problemas you won’t want to miss out.
Exploring was exciting!! Until all the sudden it wasn’t. Far from home in their little boat and VERY tired of eating coconuts, Kondo and Kezumi’s friendship hits some rocky seas. Kezumi wants to keep exploring, but Kondo is ready to go to spaghetti island and then go home! But when their boat is knocked off course, these two friends need to listen to each other and work together to find common ground. I LOVED the first installment of these brightly illustrated, irresistibly silly early chapter books, and was delighted to see additional books in the series this year. If you like whimsical adventures and fast friends, you have to check out Kondo and Kezumi!
Marya Khan is turning 8, and what she really wants is a party. A party with an elephant, and music, and henna, and maybe a magician? And to invite all of her friends from her school. A party to rival the incredible shindigs Aliyah always throws. Aliyah is in Marya’s class and has a birthday just 2 days before, always casting Marya’s small family birthday gatherings with cake and pizza into a dark shadow. Marya does everything she can think of help her family - operation Help the Khans! - to earn a party… and things don’t quite go to plan. But her heart is in the right place, and in the end Mayra learns that perhaps she is more lucky than she realizes to have her family around her to celebrate her birthday every year, and how to focus on sharing joy, rather than focusing on jealousy. Mayra’s story is one many elementary school students can relate to when the grass always feels a little bit greener in someone else’s life. I can’t wait to see more installments of this hardworking character in this great early chapter book series.
Miles is good a lot of things, he loves science and the feel of the wind in his face as he jets down a hill on his bike. But when his teacher announces the class trip to the ice skating rink, he’s not sure what to make of the new challenge, especially when his friend RJ suggests he’ll wipe out. But Miles’ family won’t let him miss out on a new experience due to nerves. With a wise grandma, and a dad who teaches Black history, Miles learns about famous Black hockey player Willie O’Ree who paved the way for African Americans in the sport. This is a great story with realistic kid pressures, strong supporting adults, and a great approach to trying new experiences. I can’t wait to see what future adventures await Miles (and his family!) in this new series.
Once there was a monster who loved a boy… but when they finally meet, things do not quite go to plan… but it IS the beginning of a beautiful friendship. This hilarious silly story is accompanied by fun illustrations, colorful pages, and lots of whimsy (as well as some clarifying, reassuring facts at the end to assure the reader.) So many of the elements of this book had this librarian laughing out loud, making it a great option for a read aloud that will have parents and kids giggling together and looking forward to the next book in the series!
Sona Sharma lives in a large joint family full of happy people who argue sometimes. Relatives come over unannounced, the phone rings often, and everyone is welcome whatever the time. This book is a beautiful glimpse into Sona’s life in India, her family, her home, and the traditions and practices of her life - which is about to completely change with the arrival of a new baby. My absolute favorite part of this book is elephant, Sona’s ever present stuffed friend who is the voice of her questions and unspoken thoughts. “It was nice being the only sister,” said Sona, “I know what you mean,” said Elephant, “I’m the only elephant in your room.” Readers will definitely relate to Sona’s doubts and struggles as she adjusts to the idea of a new baby, but also share her joy when her heart blooms to make room for her new baby sister.
Marisol loves to keep lists of all her favorites. Favorite food, favorite teacher, favorite friend. Gym Class is not on ANY of her favorite lists. Marisol is good at tag and hula hooping, but when her teacher announces for the next two weeks the class will be playing kickball, she crumbles. Kickball is a team sport. Everyone counts on you. The spotlight shines on you when kick and pitch and catch… “Surely Marisol will burst into flames under all those spotlights.” Erin Estrade Kelly is a masterful writer of capturing the real life little anxieties of growing up, and kids everywhere will see themselves reflected in her wonderful character of Marisol Rainey. I am delighted this is intended to be a series and can’t wait for the next installment.
Sydney is a skunk. Taylor is a hedgehog. And together they are very cozy living in their burrow underneath Miss Nancy’s potting shed. But sometimes Taylor gets ideas… BIG IDEAS. Like… let’s explore the whole wide world! Over the hill, across the road, and towards the stream and it isn’t long until these two friends are hopelessly lost. It is a good thing they have each other, and maybe Miss Nancy too who “miraculously” comes to their rescue, absentmindedly leaving her car door when she stops to pick flowers and casually overlooks that her tuna fish sandwich has gone missing… this sweet book is a grand adventure (but not too grand or scary!) about two friends who may have very different strengths, but luckily have each other.