2012 Finalists: Easy Readers/Early Chapter Books

Easy Readers

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse
by Frank Viva
Toon Books
Nominated by: Lizjonesbooks

Mouse is not a happy traveler. He is on a ship traveling to Antarctica with his owner, a young boy, and all he can think about is going home. The waves make it hard to do anything. The cold means you have to wear extra layers of clothing. All Mouse can do is ask “Can we go home now?” Off the coast, Mouse’s friend sees several species of penguins. Traveling on a dinghy, the boy sees a whale as Mouse announces several different things that whales can do. An unexpected turn takes the duo to a submerged volcano where they can swim in thermal waters. On their way home, Mouse asks a surprising question that doesn’t involve going home.

Emerging readers will enjoy this tale of a mouse out of his element. There are many opportunities to make predictions and readers will gain a surprising amount of knowledge about Antarctica. A Trip to the Bottom of the World is a journey that emerging readers will want to take again and again.

— Jeff Barger, NC Teacher Stuff

Bink and Gollie, Two for One
by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Deb Nance at ReaderbuzzWith the first Bink and Gollie book, Kate DiCamillo introduced us to two memorable characters: fast and loyal friends. Readers quickly asked for more. The girls are back in the sequel, Bink & Gollie: Two for One. In this installment, the two friends are headed to the state fair. We follow the girls as they have some fun at games such as Whack a Duck, share their talents at a talent show, and learn their future at fortuneteller Madame Prunely’s booth. The entire book is full of laughter and great attention to details, such as the buttons the girls wear after certain events. Children will be drawn to the friendship, certainly, but also to the loyalty of these two girls who seem to be opposites, but are the perfect complement to each other.

— Katherine Sokolowski, Read, Write, Reflect

Penny and Her Doll
by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: Colby Sharp“I love her already,” declares Penny, upon opening the surprise package from her Gram. The doll inside is perfect and is quickly and easily welcomed into the family. Finding just the right name for her, however, proves to be a bit more difficult. With engaging storytelling and endearing illustrations, Kevin Henkes shows Penny’s careful and thoughtful search for the ideal name. Young readers will relate to Penny’s dilemma, appreciate her perseverance, and just might predict that the perfect name for a perfect doll is right under Penny’s nose all along.

— Mandy Goldfuss, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Penny and Her Song
by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: Katie FitzgeraldThe charming and precocious Penny has learned a fun song in school. She can’t wait to share the song with her family. Unfortunately for Penny, listening to her song isn’t at the top of her mom and dad’s list of things to do. Penny patiently waits as her mom and dad take care of the sleeping babies. Then she has to wait until after dinner. Waiting is hard! Finally her moment comes and she can finally share her wonderful song with everyone. Her moment in the spotlight is just as she imagined, and her family loves the song so much that they join in the singing!

Henkes has created a simple yet meaningful story about patience and waiting one’s turn, and when mixed with his signature illustrations, a truly lovely book is what readers are given.

— Amanda Snow, A Patchwork of Books and Colby Sharp, sharpread and Nerdy Book Club

Pinch and Dash Make Soup (Pinch & Dash)
by Michael J. Daley
Nominated by: The Cath in the HatPinch is hungry, but he doesn’t feel like walking to the Chat and Chew, nor does he feel much like making something to eat on his own. So he goes next door to Dash’s house. Dash is making soup. It seems a little watery to Pinch, so he suggests adding ingredients, most of which are back in his own refrigerator. Before long, a thick soup is bubbling away, almost ready for the two friends to share. One small problem remains: Pinch thinks the soup needs a little spice while Dash insists it is fine as it is. When the soup ends up with double spices, it is off to the Chat and Chew to eat.

Young readers will appreciate the good-natured arguing between Pinch and Dash, recognizing that compromise is often a key ingredient not just in soup but in friendship.

— Teri Lesesne, Goddess of YA

Early Chapter Books

Ivy and Bean Make the Rules (Book 9)
by Annie Barrows
Chronicle Books
Nominated by: Melissa @ Book NutIvy and Bean are back–and this time they’re in charge! Finally old enough to spend time on their own in Monkey Park, and disappointed because they can’t attend Girl Power 4-Ever camp with Bean’s big sister, Nancy, these two spunky best friends found a camp of their own. Guided by rules like “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt” and “The counselor is always right,” Ivy and Bean lead their campers in all kinds of interesting activities, from learning the Heimlich Maneuver to fighting in the Roman Army.

This wonderful early chapter book perfectly captures the joy of childhood imagination and the fun of a child’s first taste of independence. Supporting characters are memorable and well-crafted, the story is funny and exciting, and Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are as full of personality as ever. This ninth book in the Ivy and Bean series is the best yet, and it will undoubtedly leave fans desperate for more Ivy and Bean stories.

— Katie Fitzgerald, Secrets and Sharing Soda

Marty McGuire Digs Worms!
by Kate Messner
Nominated by: Adam ShafferMarty McGuire is back, and in Marty McGuire Digs Worms, this adventure-seeking young lady cements herself as a girl who isn’t afraid to think outside the box. After an environmentalist visits Marty’s school, she is determined to win a special award for having the school’s best project. Marty’s attempt at turning the school’s garbage into fertilizer goes terribly wrong, and Marty must find a way to make things right.

Readers will laugh as they turn the pages, wanting to know what’s next. This early chapter book is meant to be shared and read aloud. It’s a book that, even when you know the ending, you’ll want to go back to read again … just for the cafeteria scene.

— Colby Sharp, sharpread and Nerdy Book Club

Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover
by Cece Bell
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Danielle SmithRabbit and Robot have an exciting night ahead of them: a sleepover! Rabbit has the entire evening scheduled, from what they will eat, to the games they will play, to when they will go to bed. However, as Rabbit soon learns, even with the best planning, life sometimes goes awry. Reminiscent of the great friendship books such as Frog and Toad, Rabbit and Robot are two friends whom readers will surely identify with. Through this unlikely pair, we learn that sometimes the best things aren’t planned. Cece Bell has created two characters that will remind children of their own friendships.

— Katherine Sokolowski, Read, Write, Reflect

Sadie and Ratz

by Sonya Hartnett
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Katherine SokolowskiIt is not altogether uncommon for a child to say, “I didn’t do it,” even when confronted with evidence to the contrary. In Sadie and Ratz, Hartnett darkens this familiar landscape, introducing readers to the REAL culprits of mischief. Sibling rivalry, childish pranks and truthfulness are all explored in this chapter book. Young readers might see themselves in BOTH characters: loving the ability to get away with mischief and the ultimate justice in getting even with an older sibling.

— Teri Lesesne, Goddess of YA

Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot
by Anna Branford
Nominated by: AmyViolet Mackerel is a creative girl with an incredible imagination and a determination that proves inspirational. While at the weekly flea market where her mother sells her knit creations, Violet discovers a beautiful china bird being sold by another vendor. She does not have the money to purchase the bird herself and rather than asking her mother, Violet devises several elaborate plots for obtaining the treasure. Though not always realistic or feasible with her plans, Violet does not waver in her quest for the small bird and ultimately meets with success, despite all of her plans going awry.

Violet is a charming, funny and unique main character who will inspire readers to think outside the box and relish the small things in life. Her positive outlook and the subtle touches of whimsy will leave the reader with a smile, and the black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout add to the cozy feeling of the story.

— Amanda Snow, A Patchwork of Books