Category Archives: Early Readers

In Praise of a Solid Foundation

This holiday season we had two trees.  One was the traditional fir, harvested on a cold, rainy, November morning from the tree farm after much debate and struggle to saw it down and drag it to the car.  The other was assembled on my desk, thanks to the inspiration of many creative librarians and several pinterest searches.  Our “book tree” was a collaborative effort and included favorites from each of my girls so that it represented all of our reading interests.  It was adorned with twinkly lights, draped with a garland made of strips from an old book dipped in glitter, and topped with a star created by my crafty middle child from book pages.

Deconstructing the tree had its own challenges.  Glitter.  Everywhere.  SO MUCH GLITTER.  Putting up the tree required organizing books by size, thickness, shape, and aesthetics.  Taking down the tree required a carefully vacuuming of each and every book to remove the festive remnants that fell from the garland.  Did I mention there was A LOT of glitter?   This process gave me a chance to carefully examine each and every title that made its way into our holiday book tree.  What became clear was that the foundation of our tree was built upon classic titles.  This makes sense as the base consisted of the largest books in our collection; the oversized read-aloud versions of Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte’s Web, and Johnny Tremain, among others.  It had me thinking about the importance of classic literature for young readers.  There is a reason these beloved classics speak to adult memories of youth and discovery.  Sharing them with a child creates a bond between reader and listener -connecting over recollections of favorite characters and plot points.   The read-aloud copies are the original stories, but include illustrations to keep little ones engaged.  They are the kind of books that create the foundation of a lifelong reader.  Below are several of my favorite classics that I’ve enjoyed reading aloud in “big book” format.  Perhaps one will inspire you to grow your own book tree.

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren & Lauren Child – I adore this version of  Pippi.  Not only do children think she is absolutely hilarious and absurd while at the same time wishing they could be Pippi, or at least Annika and Tommy.  Child’s illustrations are done in her unique style, familiar to those who watched Charlie and Lola, and bring a modern vibe to the tale.  The large book version is bright and vibrant, just like Pippi herself.

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne & Ernest H. Shepard – This old favorite introduces readers to the world of Hundred Acre Wood.   Many young readers have a familiarity with Pooh from tv and movies, but sharing the original stories and charming illustrations creates a whole new way to enjoy these well known characters.

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum –  Years ago our library had a very large illustrated version of the unabridged story that first introduced us to Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and all the fascinating characters of Oz.   It was true to the original text but so gloriously illustrated, with big pages for little eyes, that it inspired several viewings of the film and a themed birthday party.

There are several series of classics that have been issued that provide beautiful copies of these classics perfect to read aloud.  Keep in mind some are abridged or even re-writes of the original so make sure to check that you are getting the right version for your little reader.  Check out these editions that have excellent titles.

Puffin in Bloom Collection: Heidi, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess

Puffin Hardcover Classics: Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Wind in the Willows

Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Children’s Classics: Large variety of titles in a gift-worthy keepsake format.

Ladybird Classics: Tales of daring and adventure that have been “sensitively abridged” for younger readers.

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Filed under classics, Early Readers

Super Series – Agatha: Girl of Mystery

It’s easy to see why she pops up on nearly every page, because she’s traveling the world solving mysteries on almost every continent.  The very definition of a “super series”…..

Agatha: Girl of Mystery by Sir Steve Stevenson

Twelve year-old Agatha Mistery is called on by her cousin Dash to help him solve mysteries and complete assignments from his prestigious academy – the Eye International Spy School.  Jet-setting around the world, Agatha uses her remarkable photographic memory, Dash’s cool spy school gadgets, and the help of her intrepid former-boxer butler, Watson to gather clues and solve crimes.  Exploring locations across the globe – from Egypt to Scotland to Niagara Falls – Agatha tackles curses, heists, treasures and murder.  This exciting series keeps readers turning the pages while introducing diverse and exciting locales around the world. ER/3-RA

agathamystery1The Curse of the Pharaoh #1   In this debut story Agatha is off to Egypt to recover a missing artifact from an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings.

 

agathamystery2The Pearl of Bengal #2  Agatha heads to India to discover the truth behind the theft of the Pearl of Bengal.  With the help of Dash, Watson and her Uncle Raymond, a wildlife photographer, Agatha is sure to solve the crime.

agathamystery3The King of Scotland’s Sword #3  A missing sword leads Agatha to Scotland where she tackles mysterious curses and frightening ghosts to solve the mystery.

 

agathamystery4The Heist at Niagara Falls #4  A jewel heist takes Agatha to Niagara Falls where she and Dash encounter Canada’s most notorious thief.  Can they take on this mastermind criminal and return the jewels to their rightful owner?

agathamystery5The Eiffel Tower Incident #5 The stakes are higher in the city of lights….this time it’s murder.  Agatha and Dash rush to Paris to solve the mysterious murder of a Russian Diplomat.  As they travel the streets they only have the clue “Red Rose” to guide them in catching the culprit.

agathamystery6The Treasure of the Bermuda Triangle #6  A missing gold Mayan calendar leads Agatha on another adventure, but this time solving the mystery isn’t the only challenge- the Bermuda Triangle has it’s own mysteries and dangers that Agatha and Dash must contend with.

agathamystery7The Crown of Venice #7  – The Crown of Venice is missing!  This famous ancient artifact was stolen during carnival and everyone is a suspect!

 

agathakenyaThe Kenyan Expedition #8  – A rare giraffe has disappeared and it is up to Agatha and Dash to help find it.  Luckily they have a cousin who is a safari expert who can team up to help solve the mystery!

 

agathahollywoodThe Hollywood Intrigue #9  – Someone is trying to sabotage the Hollywood movie set for the new action film, Fatal Error.  It is up to Agatha and Dash to save the movie, and save the day!


agathanorwegianThe Crime on the Norwegian Sea #10  – It is hard work solving mysteries, so it makes sense that Agatha deserves a vacation!   But there is no rest for our intrepid detective, or her cousins!  They have to stop a spy, steal secret documents and prevent a murder – can they do it without getting caught?

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Filed under Early Readers, mystery, series, travel

N is for….

Magical creatures are real…and your family is charged with protecting them from harm!

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist Series by R.L. LaFevers

In 1928 Nathaniel Flood’s parents are lost at sea, and he is sent to live with his Aunt Phil, a renowned Beastologist.   As Nathaniel and Aunt Phil embark on amazing adventures he discovers first-hand the Fludd family legacy- to care for and protect magical creatures at all costs.    Nathaniel encounters gremlins, a dodo-bird, phoenix and more as he begins to understand the importance of his new position as a Beastologist-in-training.   A little bit history, a dash of magic, a commitment to family, and a good dose of mystery make Nathaniel Fludd a delightful magical hero for the pre-Harry Potter set! (ER-2/3)

nathanielfluddphoenixFlight of the Phoenix – In Nathaniel’s first adventure he barely has time to process the loss of his parents and adapt to his new home with Aunt Phil, the famous Beastologist, before he is whisked off to the Arabian desert to witness the birth of a Phoenix egg!    When Aunt Phil is kidnapped is Nathaniel up to the task of protecting the Phoenix egg?  Does he have what it takes to live up to his family name, and be a true Beastologist?  And was is wise to befriend a gremlin?  (Aunt Phil doesn’t think so!)

nathanielfluddbasiliskThe Basilisk’s Lair – Nathaniel is off to save a Dhughani village from a mysterious, missing, deadly serpent – a basilisk!  On top of this terrifying task, Nate and Aunt Phil must protect The Fludd Book of Beasts from a sinister thief.  And Nathaniel is convinced his parents disappearance isn’t what it seems – if only he can figure out how to find them.  Filled with non-stop adventure Nathaniel Fludd continues his Beastologist training, and with help from some friends, begins to discover his destiny.

nathanielfluddwyvernThe Wyverns’ Treasure – On their return to England Nathaniel and Aunt Phil discover their home has been ransacked!  Who could have done this?  Were they looking for the Book of Beasts?  No time to find out – Nate and Aunt Phil are off to Wales to help stop a Wyvern uprising.  Nate has to calm the giant dragons and restore order before he can figure out how to protect the family book.

nathanielfluddunicornThe Unicorn’s Tale – All Nate wants is to find his parents, who he is convinced are alive.  But Aunt Phil insists that Beastology takes precedence – and when a Unicorn becomes ill Nate must care for it.  And the mysterious evil man is still after them, the Book of Beasts, and the creatures they care for.  Will Nathaniel ever reunite his family and become a full Beastologist?

PBP Note: R.L. LaFevers is also the author of the Theodosia Throckmorton books- this unique heroine tackles mummies, ghosts, curses, and evil archaeologists in 1906 London.  This MR-4/5 series is a Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite.

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Filed under A to Z, animals, Early Readers, magic, series, travel

M is for…

Two ordinary kids, a tree-house in the woods, and books about every subject imaginable.  Add a little magic, mystery, and adventure and you’ve got the classic early-reader series that transports every kid to places they’ve only dreamed of!

Magic Treehouse Series by Mary Pope Osbourne

Jack and Annie, siblings from Frog Creek, Pennsylvania, are transported through time and space to help the mythical Morgan LeFay save the library at Camelot.  Along the way they meet dinosaurs, visit ancient Egypt, tackle ninjas, sail on the Titanic, immerse themselves in American History, and more!   Each book is its own stand-alone adventure, but the books connect in groups of 4 to solve larger mysteries. There is a Magic Treehouse story to complement just about any trip, holiday, or historical event.

These are great stories for those ready to tackle chapter books.  However, they are perfect for older Pre-K and Kindergarten readers who are ready for a complex read-aloud.   Suitable for a wide range of readers, Magic Treehouse books address a variety of experiences in an age appropriate way.  And for more inquisitive readers, the Magic Treehouse Fact-Trackers are fantastic non-fiction companions to the series.  For even more check out magictreehouse.com to play and learn with Jack & Annie.

*A Paperback Pigeon All-Time Top 10 Favorite*

mth1-4Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon – Real dinosaurs?  Medieval Knights?  Ancient Egypt? Swashbuckling Pirates?   Adventure is just a turn of the page as Jack & Annie begin to discover the magic in their treehouse! (ER-K-3)

mth5-8Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 5-8: Night of the Ninjas, Afternoon on the Amazon, Sunset of the Sabertooth, and Midnight on the Moon –  Time and space are no match for the Magic Treehouse – or for Jack & Annie – when they travel to ancient Japan, voyage down the Amazon River, tackle the Ice Age and land on the Moon!!!

mth1-28Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-28 – Sets of 4 books just not enough to satisfy your curious reader?  Get all 28 of the original Magic Treehouse Books and join Jack & Annie for every single magical, mystical adventure from Shakespeare’s England to George Washington’s Revolutionary War encampment.

mthchristmasincamelotChristmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House, No. 29) – In the first book in the Magic Treehouse Merlin Missions, Jack & Annie take on more mythical challenges.  The series elevates in reading level, growing with its readers, as well as in content depth and story length. (ER-2/3)

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, animals, Asia, Early Readers, europe, History, Holiday, magic, mystery, North America, series, Time Travel, Uncategorized, United States

D is for….

Dodsworth by Tim Egan

Traveling the world is a lifelong dream for many.   Few, if any, of those many would care to do it in the company of a poorly behaved, trouble-making duck.  Dodsworth is no different.  As he travels the globe he just can’t seem to shake the duck, which results in hilarious travel tales that are fun & funny for both kids and adults.  Even Dodsworth has to admit the duck is a little endearing, after a while.  These short chapter books, with repetitive  word choices are perfect for beginning readers, and great to share as a read-aloud, too.  RA/ER -1/3

dodsworthinnyDodsworth in New York – Dodsworth wants to see the world.  Before leaving his hometown of New York he needs some breakfast.  Unfortunately for Dodsworth, and luckily for readers,  on his trip for pancakes at Hodges’ Cafe  he meets a crazy duck who leads Dodsworth across New York city, past famous sights right onto a boat that’s traveling across the ocean….

dodsworthparisDodsworth in Paris – The Eiffel Tower beckons as Dodsworth and the duck visit the City of Lights.   But try as he may the duck just can’t seem to stay out of trouble!   For  comedic mischief from Notre Dame to the Louvre follow Dodsworth and the duck as they don a beret and visit the sights of Paris.  This early reader contains some French words which help build diverse vocabulary, but may require a grown-up to assist with the initial reading.

dodsworthlondonDodsworth in London – They’ve crossed the channel via hot-air balloon and Dodsworth and the duck (still sporting his beret) are now in London.  This time a case of mistaken identity leaves Dodsworth with the wrong duck!  How will Dodsworth find his duck, and return this one to it’s home?  From double-decker buses to Buckingham Palace this hilarious duo don’t miss a thing while in London!

dodsworthromeDodsworth in Rome – When in Rome…trouble is bound to follow Dodsworth and the duck.  From entering a pizza throwing contest to a visit to the Sistine Chapel, with these two nothing ever goes as planned.  Follow Dodsworth and the duck on another adventure as the scooter around Rome as they see the Coliseum, the Trevi Fountain and eat lots of gelato!

dodsworthtokyoDodsworth in Tokyo – Dodsworth is excited to visit Tokyo, but nervous that the duck will have trouble minding his manners.  As usual, the duck doesn’t disappoint and has accidents everywhere he goes. This time however, he redeems himself by helping a young girl.  Even Dodsworth has to smile at that.  Many of the Japanese words may be too difficult for the earliest readers, but the pictures help with decoding and adults will enjoy these adventures too, so read along together!

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Filed under A to Z, animals, Asia, Early Readers, europe, series, travel

Easy as A, B, C…..

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer.  As my husband and I are both educators, this upcoming week means that all five people in our house head back to school within days of each other.  The lazy, hazy days of summer (which alternated with crazy, busy days) are behind us and we are returning to the welcome routine and rhythm of the fall.

This return to school also means a return to homework.  My girls in elementary school are asked to read 15 minutes per night, any material of their choosing, as part of their ELA homework.  That means making sure that reading material is readily available.   We start with trips to the library to get a variety of choices, or visit Barnes & Noble to get the latest “must-have” in a series, and check Amazon for ideas to help us prepare.

As we embark on another school year I thought it would be great for the Paperback Pigeon to get back to basics…so, for the foreseeable future, each week I will be posting a suggestion for a book or series to excite your reader about travel – and their independent reading requirements for school – from A to Z.

A is for Agatha: Girl of Mystery by Sir Steve Stevenson

Twelve year-old Agatha Mistery is called on by her cousin Dash to help him solve mysteries and complete assignments from his prestigious academy – the Eye International Spy School.  Jet-setting around the world, Agatha uses her remarkable photographic memory, Dash’s cool spy school gadgets, and the help of her intrepid former-boxer butler, Watson to gather clues and solve crimes.  Exploring locations across the globe – from Egypt to Scotland to Niagara Falls – Agatha tackles curses, heists, treasures and murder.  This exciting series keeps readers turning the pages while introducing diverse and exciting locales around the world. ER/3-RA

agathamystery1The Curse of the Pharaoh #1   In this debut story Agatha is off to Egypt to recover a missing artifact from an archaeological dig in the Valley of the Kings.

agathamystery2The Pearl of Bengal #2  Agatha heads to India to discover the truth behind the theft of the Pearl of Bengal.  With the help of Dash, Watson and her Uncle Raymond, a wildlife photographer, Agatha is sure to solve the crime.

agathamystery3The King of Scotland’s Sword #3  A missing sword leads Agatha to Scotland where she tackles mysterious curses and frightening ghosts to solve the mystery.

agathamystery4The Heist at Niagara Falls #4  A jewel heist takes Agatha to Niagara Falls where she and Dash encounter Canada’s most notorious thief.  Can they take on this mastermind criminal and return the jewels to their rightful owner?

agathamystery5The Eiffel Tower Incident #5 The stakes are higher in the city of lights….this time it’s murder.  Agatha and Dash rush to Paris to solve the mysterious murder of a Russian Diplomat.  As they travel the streets they only have the clue “Red Rose” to guide them in catching the culprit.

agathamystery6The Treasure of the Bermuda Triangle #6  A missing gold Mayan calendar leads Agatha on another adventure, but this time solving the mystery isn’t the only challenge- the Bermuda Triangle has it’s own mysteries and dangers that Agatha and Dash must contend with.

agathamystery7The Crown of Venice #7  Publication date Nov 13, 2014 – The Crown of Venice is missing!  This famous ancient artifact was stolen during carnival and everyone is a suspect!

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Filed under A to Z, Africa, Asia, Early Reader, Early Readers, europe, Multi-Cultural, mystery, North America, series, travel