Easy Readers

Clara and Clem Under the Sea (Penguin Young Readers, L1)

by Ethan Long

Penguin USA

Nominated by: Mindy R

Clara and Clem adventure under the sea in this continuation of the series from Ethan Long. Starting off in their room, building a boat out of blocks, their imaginations quickly dive into an underwater adventure. As they explore, they meet dolphins, solve a conflict with a shark, find buried treasure, and more in this easy reader for the newest readers.

Long shares this adventure with readers through very few words. Most of the spreads have two words that share Clara and Clem’s observations, followed by a short rhyming line to point out something new or spur an action. This book highlights ocean animals and fun while allowing readers to practice foundational reading skills like rhyming words, recognizing letter sounds and sight words, and reading left to right. The simple and colorful illustrations play an essential role in understanding the story and help the reader determine new words. Young readers will experience excitement of adventure along with Clara and Clem while celebrating imagination and creativity.

Caroline Flory, CarolineFlory.com

Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken

by Sarah Dillard


Nominated by: Mrs. Heise

 In this inviting graphic novel-narrative book combo, Warren’s life is boring – endless peck, cluck, feed. He wants excitement in his life; he wants to be Chicken Supreme, superhero. And that’s just what he becomes when he and his best friend, Egg, thwart the devious rat Millard’s plans to barbecue him and the other chicks. (No Chicken Supreme dinner for Millard. Phew!) We love bold illustrations and kid-appropriate humor. Warren’s a superhero to whom we can all relate – a lovable and curious seeker of adventure whose ultimate success comes from valuable life lessons and a little help from a friend.

Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup

Inch and Roly and the Sunny Day Scare (Ready-to-Reads)

by Melissa Wiley

Simon Spotlight

Nominated by: Mary Machado

Melissa Wiley’s third Inch and Roly book adds inference and perspective to an easy reader without adding difficulty or confusion for the reader. Inch and his friends find something in the grass. Each bug tries to identify the object found using environmental clues. The reader figures out early on what the object is which makes the characters’s predictions quite funny. The book has larger print and clearly defined punctuation making it easy for the reader to identify who is talking. Children will find this book interesting and will be able to engage in a more literate discussion after a first or second read.

Kimberley Moran, Books First in Maine

My New Friend Is So Fun! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

by Mo Willems


Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

Employing masterful illustrations and suspenseful moments of drama, Mo Willems continues to set the bar for tales involving deep, meaningful emotional exchanges for the early elementary crowd. In this episode, Piggie has gone off with Brian Bat to play “best friend games,” leaving their respective best friends, Gerald and Snake, to wonder if they will measure up when the games are done. Moments of humor help alleviate the tension, but it is the readers’ faith in the power of best-friendship that makes the ending feel realistic and satisfying.

Maggi Idzikowski, Mama Librarian

Okay, Andy! (Jump-Into-Chapters)

by Maxwell Eaton

Blue Apple Books

Nominated by: Tasha

Andy the alligator doesn’t always want to play with Preston the coyote, but that doesn’t curb Preston’s enthusiasm. Readers will recognize this friendship dynamic and Andy’s complex emotions from the characters’ expressions and actions in this graphic novel-style beginning reader. As with the most successful easy reader books, Eaton has managed to tell a meaningful (and laugh-out-loud funny) story using only a few familiar words.

Maggi Idzikowski, Mama Librarian

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey

by Alex Milway

Candlewick Press

Nominated by: Tara

Pigsticks is last in a line of noble ancestors, but he has yet to follow in their noble footsteps. He decides to set off on a journey to the Ends of the Earth. Harold the hamster is persuaded to serve as explorer assistant when Pigsticks offers to provide cake as refreshment for the adventure. And the two, pig and hamster, set off, across dense jungles, over a terrifyingly deep ravine, through a burning hot desert, over a giant ice-topped mountain, and past some really, really, really hungry goats, headed for the Ends of the Earth. Which are farther away than you might think. And closer too.

Full of fun. And cake.

Debbie Nance, Readerbuzz

Scholastic Reader Level 1: The Ice Cream Shop: A Steve and Wessley reader

by Jennifer E. Morris


Nominated by: Pete D.

Best friends Steve (a rat) and Wessley (a rabbit) star in this silly adventure which takes place at an ice cream shop. Steve really wants a delicious ice cream cone, but he can’t figure out how to open the door! He pushes and pushes, but nothing happens – until Wessley and his reading skills come to the rescue. This colorfully illustrated, dialogue-heavy easy reader will make beginning readers laugh while also highlighting the importance of knowing how to read and giving them an opportunity to practice their developing literacy skills.

Katie Fitzgerald, Story Time Secrets

Early Chapter Books

Dory Fantasmagory

by Abby Hanlon

Dial Books

Nominated by: Camila

 This outstanding chapter book stars six-year-old Dory, who inhabits a fantasy world so vast that the line between reality and make-believe is always blurred. Her imagination conjures such colorful characters as a monster named Mary, a bearded, male fairy godmother, and a most formidable adversary named Mrs. Gobble Gracker, whom her siblings insist will snatch her away if she does not stop acting like such a baby. Wonderful child-like illustrations capture the likenesses of these imaginary beings and help the reader become fully invested in Dory’s efforts to defeat Mrs. Gobble Gracker once and for all. A book that speaks to children in their own language at their own level, Dory Fantasmagory is a perfect early elementary read sure to have wide appeal.

Katie Fitzgerald, Story Time Secrets

Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake

by Julie Sternberg

Abrams Books for Young Readers

Nominated by: Flowering Minds

In this third book of the Eleanor series, Eleanor does a very mean thing to her best friend, Pearl, and the new girl in their class, Ainsley. On top of that friendship pressure, Eleanor is chosen as the lead role in her class play — which she is terrified to do! Eleanor must learn how to mend her mistake and her friendships while combating stage fright and dealing with classroom dynamics.

Readers from 2nd to 4th grade will absolutely love this book. The friendship issues are very relatable for this age group, and likable characters allow the reader to empathize even when they do something wrong. Both Eleanor and her friends have to grow to solve the problem together, and Eleanor’s parents offer a unique and positive look at the parent/child relationship. Sternberg’s strong writing features components of novels-in-verse, adding to the literary appeal of this book. Cordell’s illustrations complement and increase the story’s emotion and humor. This chapter book offers realistic situations with a masterful understanding and expression of feelings for the age group. With several layers of conflict, an intriguing cast of characters, beautiful writing, and a satisfying ending, Eleanor and her adventures will linger in the reader’s mind for a long time.

Caroline Flory , CarolineFlory.com

Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door

by Hilary McKay

Albert Whitman & Company

Nominated by: Maureen E

 Lulu and her cousin Mellie worry about the new neighbor’s neglected rabbit. They decide to write a series of helpful, activity-filled notes – not from them, but from Lulu’s rabbit, Thumper – directly to the neighbor’s rabbit, George, in hopes that his owner, a boy named Arthur, will begin to understand rabbit care. In a world where emotional intelligence predicts future success, these notes are a fantastic example of giving advice without being a know-it-all. And it works. Soon their neighbor, Arthur, begins to care and love his rabbit pet just as the girls had hoped. The relatable characters are easy to love, and the well-written story keeps us, the readers, engaged from beginning to end.

Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission

by Judith Viorst


Nominated by: Freya Hooper

Lulu is back in her third and by far most wonderful adventure to date. Lulu’s parents dare to go on vacation without her. They add insult to injury by hiring the best babysitter in town, Ms. Solinsky. Despite Lulu’s typical insanity, Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky proves her title. She lays down the law and provides an enticing offer: if Lulu does as she is told, she will learn how to become a spy. Throughout the story, Viorst speaks directly to the reader, inducing story buy-in and several laughs. in this third book, the illustrator is new. Kevin Cornell uses black sketches with lots of white space which helps young readers manage the text.

Kimberley Moran, Books First in Maine

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure

by Doreen Cronin


Nominated by: Sarah Potvin

Grass clippings, a bag of rocks, a ball of string, a tank of helium, and an orange balloon. If you think chickens couldn’t possibly have all those things, then you don’t know chickens, kid. You don’t know chickens at all…

When a prone-to-fainting squirrel named Tail, who doesn’t know a circle from a triangle, encounters something big and scary out in the yard, the chicks embark on their first case: vetting Tail’s encounter. Once Tail can properly identify a rhombus, the nuances of synonyms for “big” and “scary” are debated, and the distinction between forest, pine, and asparagus green is made, the team verifies this squirrel isn’t overreacting. It’s a UFO. In a tone reminiscent of classic detective novels, this engaging misadventure is brimming with the clever humor and memorable one-liners that will keep young readers reaching for laughs.

Mike Lewis, No High 5 News

The Lion Who Stole My Arm

by Nicola Davies

Candlewick Press

Nominated by: Anamaria (bookstogether)

After losing his arm in a lion attack, Pedru can think of nothing but destroying the creature that wounded him. Even when he meets a team of researchers dedicated to saving lions and agrees to work with them, he is still not sure he can face the lion without allowing his anger to take over. Set in Mozambique and based on the author’s own conservation work, this chapter book stands out for its edifying — but not preachy — message, its uncommon and intriguing setting, and its exploration of the complexities of emotions like anger and hatred. Readers will be instantly drawn to the story’s strong sense of adventure and will eagerly follow Pedru all the way to the satisfying conclusion.

Katie Fitzgerald, Story Time Secrets

Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend

by Anna Branford


Nominated by: Mary McKenna Siddals

It can be tricky to make a new friend, especially if the friend you want to make is someone you have never seen before. Violet accidentally makes a small hole in the fence the people next door share with her family. To make amends, Violet writes an apology note and leaves the note and a small bell in the hole in the fence. Soon there is a new note in the hole in the fence, and with the note is a small jewel. Could Violet possibly make a new friend?

Author Anna Bradford gets children, with their little worries, like giving birthday gifts that may be too small for a new possible friend who already has a magnificent pink room and amazing dollhouse, and their little joys, like discovering that a new possible friend likes to wear a too-big skirt with a clothespin just like Violet herself.

Debbie Nance, Readerbuzz