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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Reading Level 2, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 56
1. Little Robot by Ben Hatke, 144 pp, RL: 2



Friendship, connection, danger, adventure, robots or creatures. These are things you can count on in a Ben Hatke book, and these are the elements that I look forward to experiencing through his particular perspective (and paintbrush) with each and every book. In his newest graphic novel, Little Robot, Hatke tells the almost wordless story of a little girl who finds and fights to keep her new friend.



A box falls out of a truck and off a bridge, making its way to a junkyard downstream. A little girl slips out of the window of her trailer home and heads off into the wilds/junkyard, shoeless, where she unearths her tool satchel. There she discovers the box and the robot within.


After getting the bot going, she helps it to master the art of walking. Together the two explore as she gently teaches the robot about the world around them. In a factory far away we see an alarm going off - a robot is missing. A massive, one eyed, multi-legged, yellow behemoth is seen trundling out of a hangar and into the distance. A capture, a rescue and a dramatic ending leave the little heroine with more bots and friends than before along with a very satisfying ending. 

Being mostly wordless, Little Robot is so much about feelings and the sometimes wordless connection of friendship. Little Robot is a "meditation on friendship more than a lesson," as Hatke said of his book in an interview with EW. Hatke goes on to say that his heroine is, "a hero for the introverts and the makers." And, while this is a graphic novel about robots, junkyards and machines, the natural world is very much a vivid part of Little Robot. Hatke says that this scenery is "partially inspired by and informed by the landscape around my home in Virginia. The rural area in the Shenandoah valley."  Amidst the green fields are forests are cats, birds, frogs, ducks, turtles and newly blooming flowers. There is a six-panel page where the girl and the bot come across a dead squirrel. "XoNX," the bot exclaims (the bot has a fantastic phonetic language, "Jonk," being its most frequent verbalization) and the little girl, completely at home in the natural world, reassures him, "It's just dead is all." 

For a book with so few words, there is so much going on in Little Robot. But this is always the case with Hatke's books. His illustration style, color palette, characters and plots are good. That seems like a tired, less than celebratory adjective but I mean it in the best, truest sense of the word possible. If you have ever read Hatke's blog or had the immense pleasure of viewing his wife's Instagram feed, you will experience the well of goodness, from good living to good parenting and educating to good stewardship of and connection to the natural world, that Hatke's creations arise from and/or are fueled by. This is a good world that I want to live in and one that I want the young readers I teach to live in, even if we can only get to it from the pages of his books.






A new picture book coming from Hatke this year!






And a new graphic novel coming next year, maybe...










Source: Purchased


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2. The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 89 pp, RL 2




Last year I reviewed and loved Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale and superbly illustrated by LeUeyn Pham and I am so excited to be reviewing the second book in the series a year later, The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess PartyThe way I see it, with Princess Magnolia, the Hales and Pham have created a character and series that hits all my literary sweet spots: a high interest chapter book that is a perfect bridge between leveled readers and chapter books, a character who is all things - a princess with her own unicorn and a secret double life fighting monsters. Magnolia can go from wearing a pouffy pink gown and tiara while having tea with the Duchess Wigtower to a black booted, masked and caped crusader with a scepter that turns into a staff for battle and Pham brings her to life with vivid, action filled panache. Best of all, the Princess in Black books are sweet and playful and not the least bit saccharine. 


In The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party, Magnolia is preparing for her birthday party and the eleven princesses (and their steeds) who will be attending the party. Just as they begin to arrive, Magnolia's "glitter-stone ring rang." Monsters are leaving Monster Land, Duff the goat boy's flock is in danger and the Princess in Black needs to perform her signature moves, like the Tiara Trip and the Tentacle Tangle, on them to make everything right with the world again.
Just when Magnolia thinks she can get back to her guests, the party games, the cake and the presents, her glitter-stone ring goes off again. And again. Magnolia juggles her responsibilities admirably. Until she doesn't. My favorite part of The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party are the princesses themselves. Pham's illustrations of Princess Sneezewort, Princess Zinnia, Princess Honeysuckle, Princess Hyacinth, Princess Apple Blossom, Princess Bluebell, Princess Euphoria, Princess Tulip, Princess Crocus, Princess Snapdragon, and Princess Jasmine bring to mind an updated rendering of the singing dolls from the It's a Small World ride at Disneyland, in the best way possible, without the singing. I couldn't stop poring over the pages, taking in all the details. Now, I need to get this books onto the shelves of my library because students have been asking for it for weeks!
Coming February 2016!!!



Source: Review Copy


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3. Flop to the Top by Eleanor Davis & Drew Weing, 36pp, RL 2

Eleanor Davis has created two of my all-time favorite graphic novels, the multiple award winning Stinky, one of the first TOON Books published in 2008, and Secret Science Alliance, which came out in 2009. After creating art and a graphic novel for adults, Davis and fellow graphic novelist and husband Drew Weing  have teamed up with each other and TOON Books to bring us Flop to the Top.

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4. Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, 112 pp, RL 2

It's taken me a while to warm up to Kate DiCamillo, and I still haven't read her most popular books, Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. But I do like her weird sense of humor and the curious characters she created in books like the Mercy Watson series, which I reviewed here in 2010. The Bink & Gollie trilogy, which she created with Alison McGhee and Tony Fucile, as an absolute

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5. The Yeti Files: Monsters on the Run by Kevin Sherry, 124 pp, RL 2.0

Last year I gleefully reviewed The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry. I am so thrilled to be reviewing Monsters on the Run, the second book in what I hope is a long running series about all kinds of cryptids! Besides the fact that The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet taught me the word "cryptid," which I work into conversations whenever I can now, I adore this book for its humor,

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6. Witten and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers, 64pp, RL 2

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by the Argentine cartoonist Liniers is a treat to read, bringing back the excitement I feel when I see a brand new box of colored pencils and a crisp, white page as well as the occasional, immobilizing dread that comes with creating. Liniers treats us to his view of Henrietta as she writes and illustrates a story as well as Henrietta's story itself, as

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7. Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 89 pp, RL: 2

I did not want to like The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. I am tired of princesses and equally tired of princess backlash. I am weary from trying to excavate and explain the potential of a princess in a plot (see my review of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett) and I am wary of mash-ups that have the air of a Disney enterprise. However, I

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8. The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh, 90 pp, RL 2

The Mystery of the Missing Lion is the third book in Alexander McCall Smith's, brilliant chapter book series featuring the childhood incarnation of his adult novel heroine and owner of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Precious Ramotswe. The books are marvelously illustrated by Iain McIntosh and are unique when it comes to chapter books for so many reasons - girl detective, set in

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9. The Complete Adventures of Johnny Mutton stories & pictures by James Proimos, 150 pp, RL 2

Publishing all three volumes of James Proimos's graphic novels in one volume titled The Complete Adventures of Johnny Mutton (with bonus material) is one of the best things I've seen all year. Proimos has a smart, absurdist sense of humor that fans of Captain Underpants series will gobble up with glee. And Proimos and his ovine hero first hit the shelves way back in 2001! Johnny's

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10. Stink Moody in Master of Disaster by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid, 64 pp, RL 2

It is rare that I review more than one book in a series, but sometimes I love a series so much that I want to review a book again, just in case anyone missed it the first time around. Last year I reviewed Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble, the first book in this new sibling (in more ways than one) series featuring the characters from Megan McDonald's Judy Moody series, which spawned the  Stink

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11. The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke, 38 pp, RL 2

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman and illustrated by Deborah Zemke is a fantastic new book from Creston Books, a homegrown publisher of books printed in America that launched in Fall of 2013. Of course I love a good story, but I also love a beautifully made book and all of Creston's books fit this bill, as you can glimpse in the photo below, and by taking a look inside The

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12. Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms! by Philippe Coudray

Hopefully by the publication of Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms!, you know Philippe Coudray's creatively thinking bear and his forest full of friends. Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, came out in 2011 and is now in paperback and Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas! in 2013. If you have never had the pleasure of meeting Benjamin Bear on the page, quotes from these reviews create a perfect picture.

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13. Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez, RL: 2

Something that I adore and deeply appreciate about TOON Books is the attention to detail that goes into each book. Of course the writing and illustrations are exemplary. The packaging is superb, from the trim size to the recognizable TOON wallpaper pattern that appears on the spine to the way that the books look so wonderful lined up on the shelf. TOON Books are so visually appealing and

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14. Piper Green and the Fairy Tree AND Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: TOO MUCH GOOD LUCK by Ellen Potter, 95 pp, RL 2

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree marks the sixth book I have reviewed by the wonderful Ellen Potter and I absolutely ADORE it! I reviewed the first book in Potter's Olivia Kidney series, which would make the PERFECT step up for readers after finishing the Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series, back in 2008! It has been such a treat to continue reading her books over the last seven years and

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15. Daisy Dawson is on Her Way! by Steve Voake, illustrations by Jessica Meserve, 98pp RL 2

First reviewed on 3/9/09, Daisy Dawson remains perfect in every way. She is a thoughtful, brave, kind person who can talk to animals and the books about her are the ideal refuge for readers (and parents) who are tired of sassy girl characters and oafish boy characters. And the illustrations are as charming as the title character. Daisy Dawson is on Her Way! by Steve Voake, perfectly

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16. Galaxy Zack #1 : Hello, Nebulon! written by Ray O'Ryan, illustrated by Colin Jack, 115 pp, RL 2

  <!-- START INTERCHANGE - GALAXY ZACK HELLO NEBULON -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> Galaxy Zack by Ray O'Ryan and illustrated by Colin Jack is a fantastic and rare series for emerging readers ready to cross the bridge between

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17. The Notebook of Doom: Subject - Chomp of the Meat-Eating Vegetables by Troy Cummings, 90 pp, RL 2

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - THE NOTEBOOK OF DOOM CHOMP OF THE MAN EATING VEGETABLES -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> The Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings is part of a new line of books (seven series and counting) from Scholastic 

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18. The Kingdom of Wrenly, Book 1 - The Lost Stone, by Jordan Quinn, illustrated by Robert McPhillips, 128 pp, RL 2

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - THE KINGDOM OF WRENLY BOOK 1 THE LOST STONE -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} <!-- END INTERCHANGE --> The Kingdom of Wrenly by Jordan Quinn, illustrated by Robert Mc Phillips, is a new series that is a great addition to the new field

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19. Greetings from Somewhere : The Mystery of the Gold Coin AND Greetings from Somewhere: The Mystery of the Mosaic, by Harper Paris and illustrated by Marcos Calo, 166 pp, RL 2

<!-- START INTERCHANGE - GREETINGS FROM SOMEWHERE THE MYSTERY OF THE GOLD COIN -->if(!window.igic__){window.igic__={};var d=document;var s=d.createElement("script");s.src="http://iangilman.com/interchange/js/widget.js";d.body.appendChild(s);} First, The Kingdom of Wrenly, a fantastic new Bridge Chapter Book series with the rare (for this reading level) traditional fantasy setting and

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20. Greetings from Somewhere: The Mystery of the Stolen Painting by Harper Paris, illustrated by Marcos Calo, 115 pp, RL: 2

In April of this year, I reviewed Books 1 & 2 of the new Greetings from Somwhere series of early chapter books (and part of my new Bridge Chapter Books Label) of books by Harper Paris, illustrated by Marcos Calo and fell in love with them. Book 3, The Mystery of the Stolen Painting, takes traveling twins Ella and Ethan to Paris and is a great summer story! While I love the fact that,

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21. Comics Squad: Recess! edited by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm and Jarret J. Krosoczka, 136 pp, RL 3

Comics Squad: Recess! is a very promising sign of the times. Graphic novels for kids are finally a strong enough presence with their creators and characters on the verge of being household names that a book like Comics Squad: Recess! can be conceived and created. And it's sure to be a huge seller, especially at the very reasonable price of $7.99! As you may have guessed, the theme of each

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22. Digby O'Day: In the Fast Lane by Shirley Hughes & Clara Vuillamy, 96 pp, RL 2

Shirley Hughes is a Grande Dame of British children's literature, her 1977 picture book, Dogger, which she wrote and illustrated won the Kate Greenaway Award (the British Caldecott) that year and, in 2007 it won the public vote of best Greenaway every. Hughes has teamed up with her daughter, Clara Vuillamy, a fantastic picture book illustrator and author in her own right, to create a

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23. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Leroy Ninker Saddles up is the first in a new series of chapter books from the dynamic duo who brought us stories about a buttered-toast-loving-pet-pig. Fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen's Mercy Watson series of beginning reader chapter books (you can read my review from 2010 here) might remember Leroy Ninker from Book 3, Mercy Watson Fights Crime, in which he was first seen

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24. Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season by Jessi Haas, illustrated by Alison Friend, 52 pp, RL 2

Bramble and Maggie: Spooky Season is the second book in this series for horse lovers by Jessi Haas and illustrated by Alison Friend. Haas, who has written several other children's books featuring horses and, while this is a lower level book, Haas does not talk down to readers when writing about horses and riding. In the first book in the series, Bramble and Maggie: Horse Meets Girl, we learn

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25. Eerie Elementary Book 1: The School is Alive! by Jack Chabert, illustrations by Sam RIcks, 90 pp, RL: 2

Eerie Elementary by Jack Chabert is yet another fantastic series that's part of Scholastic's much needed Branches line. These books are "specifically designed for newly independent readers who are ready to make the exciting leap from leveled readers, but not quite prepared for a traditional chapter book." In the school where I am a librarian and the majority of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders

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