Dinosaur Fun Facts. F.

INFO: Keller, Ellen. Dinosaur Fun Facts. F. 1997.

DESC: This easy-to-read introduction to dinosaur life is an interesting starting point for early readers. The full-page illustrations literally act out the one sentence that graces each page. Students will definitely struggle with “real” dinosaur names, given here in full (e.g. “heterodontosaurus”) – these moments may be good opportunities to practice breaking unknown words down into chunks.

TAGS: dinosaurs, non-fiction, ancient reptiles, museums, easy readers, easy reads, K

No Ball Games. I.

INFO: Akass, Susan. No Ball Games. I. 2000.

DESC: This leveled reader – with about the same number of words-per-page as a Henry and Mudge book – follows a young girl who decides to bring her beloved bouncing ball with her on a trip to the zoo. The strange and sing-song-y language and of “No Ball Games” may seem – or be – somewhat regressive for our 2nd grade readers – who might balk at reading about the adventures of what appears to be a young toddler – even if it is at their reading level. Still, like other books of this level, the repetitive plot structure (each animal ‘borrows’ her ball, in turn) and language (“Give me back my ball!” shouted Katy …. x 8!) may be a comfort to struggling readers just working up from the one-sentence-a-page mark. Nothing otherwise remarkable about the plotline or characters.

TAGS: easy reader, easy reads, zoo, animals, young children, family trips, I, fiction

The Gingerbread Man. K.

INFO: Smith, Annette. The Gingerbread Man. K. 1997.

DESC: Yet another classic-fables-retold-as-levelled-reading, with-a-play-at-the-end! This book is fantastic for resistant readers: it pairs the familiar plotline of the Gingerbread Man fable with dynamic, often quite funny illustrations; and the surprise and joy of the moment when the clever fox outfoxes the witty, rebellious Gingerbread Man (much to the shock of the Old Man and Woman) genuinely keeps kids engaged. As with the other fable-and-play books, these are wonderful transitions from shorter, less complicated leveled readers since they have a number of sentences on each page; but the character development and plotline are so simple and familiar that they build confidence with each turn of the page.

TAGS: fables, plays, gingerbread man, easy readers, easy reads, K?, fiction, fox stories, trickster tales

What a Trip, Amber Brown! N.

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INFO: Danzinger, Paula. What a Trip, Amber Brown! N. 2001.

DESC: Although it hails from acclaimed, hilarious and beloved Amber Brown maven Paula Danzinger (R.I.P., Paula!), What a Trip comes from Danzinger’s “A is for Amber” younger reader’s series. While the book makes for a Henry-and-Mudge-esque introduction to the world of Amber, it is very, very “young” feeling for a level N – if a student can handle What a Trip, Amber Brown, with its copious illustrations and much-reduced level of charming punnery, they can certainly handle – and benefit from – reading Amber Brown herself. Suggested for students in the K-L range – especially since Amber, here, seems to be about 5, rather than 7 or 8. While still recognizably Amber, the “very young reader” lens definitely clouds the potential appeal for our 2nd and 3rd graders. Still – great for getting some classic “Amber spirit” in the house for a quick one-or-two session read, or for any students who love summer, vacations, camping, or all three!

TAGS: amber brown, paula danzinger, summer, camping, mountains, pools, friendships, argument, vacation, summer vacation, easy readers, easy reads, quick, non-intimidating, N-runs-low, N, fiction

Out in Space! G?

INFO: Berger, Melvin. Out in Space! G?. 1995.

DESC: This early-level non-fiction is a great and non-intimidating general overview of the many elements comprising “space.” It introduces kiddos to rockets, the planets of our solar system, and even gives a short glimpse beyond the galaxy! Some students may freak out about the specialized vocabulary – just focus on “telling” names and new words (like “andromeda” or “nebula”) and challenge the students to take on the rest. Once they get the planet names down, students will find this a rewarding read – and one that they’re very proud of.

TAGS: space, outer space, planets, moons, galaxies, rockets, science, nonfiction

Space Ant Goes Home. H.

INFO: Warren, Celia. Space Ant Goes Home. H?. 2000.

DESC: This computer-illustrated, levelled book is definitely a bizarre read. It stars a “space ant” who is exploring other planets, and meets a number of mixed-up creatures – like “Tigeroo” and “Elebird”; and then they go to a Purple Planet, which turns out to be Space Ant’s home! Other than these elements, the book has little coherence of plot, and really was not the best to read with students – it’s a little too “out there” to make much sense; but nice try! Some students, though, might find it funny; or could suggest their own re-writes!

TAGS: aliens, outer space, home, mixed-up animals, space-ships, space travel

The Greatest Binnie in the World. M.

INFO: Mahy, Margaret. The Greatest Binnie in the World. M. 1996.

DESC: Bob thinks he is the best at just about everything – and that means that his little sister, Binnie, can’t be. That is – until Binnie does something so great that Bob is forced to reevaluate his reign. This book is shockingly ‘young’-feeling, for a level-M; compared to a series like Arthur or Marvin Redpost, it’s not nearly as morally complicated, compelling, up-to-date, or interesting. Maybe recommended for early 2nd-grade readers who are accelerated – but feels shockingly like a level ‘E’ book, for a level ‘M’ selection.

TAGS: siblings, sibling rivalry, brothers, sisters, gymnastics, athletics, competition, fiction, younger readers, easy reads, non-intimidating, M