Willems, M. (2004). Knuffle Bunny. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
Trixie and her father venture through the city to the laundromat. But as they’re leaving, Trixie realizes that she has lost the most important thing in the world: Knuffle Bunny.
This classic Willems tale features his signature humour and silly storytelling that children love. Any child who has ever lost their favourite stuffed toy or blankie will relate to this story. In fact, even adults who remember their special toys will enjoy the tale.
Because of how relatable and humorous this story is, I give Knuffle Bunny a 5 out of 5.
Proimos, J. III, & Proimos, J. Jr. (illustrator). (2015). Apocalypse Bow Wow. New York: Bloomsbury.
One day, dogs Brownie and Apollo wake up to find that all of the humans have disappeared, leaving the animals behind. The pair must team up with other dogs to figure out where the humans have gone.
This humorous comic book looks into the minds of dogs in a realistic manner that anyone who has loved a dog will appreciate. Although it is over 200 pages, the plot moves quickly and the frames are large enough to make reading easy. Before they know it, readers will have flown through the story and will be salivating for the sequel Apocalypse Meow Meow.
I see this book being quite popular with young readers, especially those aged 6-10. It combines animals and humour into the popular comic book format, and with few words it is simple to read. Overall, because it was a cute read, I give this book a 4 out of 5.
Cazet, D. (2005). Minnie and Moo: The Case of the Missing Jelly Donut. New York: HaperCollins.
When Minnie’s jelly donut goes missing, Moo is certain that something suspicious has happened. The only clue that they have is a blue feather, sending Minnie and Moo on a goose chase, or rather a chicken chase, to figure out who stole Minnie’s donut.
This fun, silly, and humorous book will captivate young readers learning to read. The story is engaging and entertaining, and the characters are funny and likeable. It is a great beginner book for young readers who like animals and, of course, jelly donuts.
This book gets a 4.5 out of 5!
Howe, J., & Gay, M-L. (illustrator). (2006). Hounsdley and Catina. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
Houndsley and Catina are best friends. Catina wants to be the best writer in the world, and Houndsley enters a cook off to win a new set of pots and pans. Together, Houndsley and Catina learn that some things are more important than fame and winning.
For a levelled reader, this story is engaging and interesting, offering complex themes for young readers in a palatable way. As always, Gay’s illustrations are lovely and help to advance the story.
Any young reader beginning to read will find something enjoyable in this story. An added bonus is that this book is part of a series. I would give this book a 4.5 out of 5.
Grant, S., & Tooke, S. (illustrator). (2010). The City Speaks in Drums. Halifax, NS: Nimbus Publishing.
In this spoken word picture book, a pair of friends explore the lively city of Halifax and all that it has to offer.
Grant’s verse has a rhythm that moves the story along as Tooke’s illustrations brings us to familiar parts of the city, from the waterfront to the old public library to the Public Gardens.
My only drawback in reading this book is that I didn’t get the accompanying CD, which would have enhanced Grant’s beautiful verse. Overall, however, this story welcomes people to the city of Halifax in a fun and entertaining way.
Readers from near and far, old and young will enjoy this story.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5.
Stilton, G., Foschini, M., Favia, L., et. al. (2014). All for Stilton, Stilton for All! Milan, Italy: Papercutz.
In this graphic novel, Geromino Stilton and his crew of friends are sent back in time to 17th century France to hunt down the infamous Pirate Cats. Much to his surprise, though, Geromino finds himself helping the Pirate Cats to make sure that history runs its proper course.
This story is a play on the classic The Three Musketeers. All the appropriate characters are present: King Louis XIII, musketeers, the Cardinal of Richelieu. There’s even a reference to the Man in the Iron Mask. Sidebar notes provide historical context to young readers, making this both a fun and educational read.
Anyone who has spent time with young readers, especially those in the kindergarten to grade 2 range, will know that Geromino Stilton is one of their favourites, and I definitely understand the appeal. The characters are likeable, and the adventures are worldly and entertaining, while also being educational in a fun way.
I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 for its amusing take on a classic tale.
Buzzeo, T., & Small, D. (illustrator). (2012). One Cool Friend. New York: Dial Books.
When his father brings him to the zoo, Elliot brings home an unexpected new friend.
This story is funny and unique. The characters are interesting, and Elliot is a sophisticated young man in his tuxedo. The illustrations are engaging and help to tell the story. Young readers will especially enjoy the ending of the story.
Overall, this was a great and funny read, and young Elliot reminded me a lot of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl. I give this book a 4 out of 5!
Sif, B. (2012). Oliver. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press.
Oliver isn’t like everyone else. He likes to do his own thing and lives in his own world. But one day he meets someone new and realizes its alright to let someone new into your life.
This story is beautiful. Oliver is a bit of a loner, but finds company in his toys and his imagination, which, to me, was very relatable.
The illustrations are intricately detailed, and they’re part of the story, telling as much as the words.
This is a great story for younger children. I give it a 4.5 out of 5!
White, E.B., & Williams, G. (illustrator). (1952). Charlotte’s Web. New York: Harper.
Wilbur is just a spring pig with a sad fate until he becomes friends with a spider named Charlotte, whose ability with words changes Wilbur’s life.
I read this book when I was a kid, and I remember loving it. Re-reading it, I can appreciate the appeal it has to children. There is a seamless transition between the conversations of the humans and those of the animals, making it a reality for animals to speak. As Dr. Dorian, one of the characters says:
“It is quite possible that an animal has spoken civilly to me and that I didn’t catch the remark because I wasn’t paying attention. Children pay better attention than grownups.” (p.110)
This story will likely appeal to any child or adult with a love of animals and nature, but its themes of friendship and life may also draw in many readers.
Charlotte’s Web is a classic and timeless story about “some pig,” and I’m sure that readers today will continue to enjoy it. Because of that I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Rylander, C. (2012). The Fourth Stall: Part II. New York: Walden Pond Press.
Mac and his gang are back in the second part of Rylander’s trilogy. They’ve taken care of their nemesis (from Part I), and now business is booming. But, of course, things are never simple. In fact, everything gets really complicated the moment Trixie Von Parkway walks into the Fourth Stall, and suddenly Mac must find a way to save his school.
This book is as hilarious, captivating, and enjoyable as the first. Even though it is 281 pages, it reads quickly and readers will be sucked in from the first page. It reminded me a lot of Gordon Korman’s MacDonald Hall series.
There is notably less violence in this story, compared to Part I, since Mac isn’t up against a bully. This time, Mac is up against the Man, or the Suits, as he calls them. Even kids who hate school will feel a tug on their heartstrings and feel sympathetic towards their schools after reading Part II.
Overall, I’d give this book a 4.5 out of 5. Usually, sequels fall short, but Part II is an exception to that. I was sucked in and finished the book before I realized it, which to me is the mark of a great book!