Maybe You Missed… Chapter Books and Graphic Novels

I am pleased to see more and more graphic novels suitable for those chapter book readers, and today, I plan on giving them a bit of a spotlight! The elusive chapter books are tough ones to find and have specific characteristics that I looked for when purchasing;

  • short chapters and total page length that allows readers to build confidence
  • engaging topics and often a series with predictable plots to again improve a reader’s confidence
  • strong writing that will build vocabulary and prepare readers to transition into longer and more complex novels

So without further ado, here are some chapter books and graphic novels that I enjoyed this year and again would purchase for libraries and classrooms.

Some Canadian Considerations…

Hockey Night in Kenya by Eric Walters & Danson Mutinda, and illustrated by Claudia Dávila

Cooper and the Dragon Lady by Valerie Sherrard and illustrated by David Jardine

Willa the Wisp (Fabled Stories #1) by Jonathon Auxier and illustrated by Olga Demidova

High and Dry by Eric Walters and illustrated by Sabrina Gendron

Other Chapter Books…

Geeger the Robot Goes to School by Jarrett Lerner and illustrated by Serge Seidlitz

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timblerlake and illustrated by Jon Klassen

A Kitten Called Holly (Jasmine Green Rescues #6) by Helen Peters and illustrated by Ellie Snowdon

Graphic Novels for Younger Readers…

Please note Canadian graphic novels are in red text.

Donut Feed the Squirrels by Mika Song

King of the Birds (Arlo & Pips #1) by Elise Gravel

Peter & Ernesto Sloths in the Night by Graham Annable

PeaBee & Jay Stuck Together by Brian “Smitty” Smith

Dewdrop by Katie O’Neill

Fish Feud (Squidding Around #1) by Kevin Sherry

There you have it, my reader’s dozen of chapter books and graphic novels focusing on our younger readers. What titles or series would you add?

Laurie

Maybe You Missed…

Image by CongerDesign

Instead of my usual #IMWAYR post, I thought I would let you know what I will spend a good part of December sharing. I did have a good reading week, and some of those books will undoubtedly show up in later posts. For now, they will remain a mystery.

Late November, early December, those “Best Lists” roll in, and yes, I will admit to looking at them, but it is more to see what I may have missed rather than see what others have deemed “Best.” I am always on the lookout for new books to read, enjoy and share with others and seek out a variety of places to add to my TBR/Options pile. In the next few posts, I will share with you some books that perhaps you may have missed and can add to your reading stack. I hope to include 12 – one for each month of the year, but as of this post, it has been hard to narrow it down.

So here is the list and the dates, and I hope YOU will add books Maybe I Missed to my TBR/Options pile in the comments.

Dec. 8: Nonfiction 

Dec. 10: Picture Books

Dec. 15: Early Chapter Books and Graphic Novels

Dec. 17: Graphic Novels

Dec. 22: Middle Grade

Dec. 29: Young Adult

Happy Reading,

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 19/20

Last Week…

My reading tends to be a bit all over the map, reading older books as well as recently released and ARCs. Since retiring, I have had to change my reading habits as the availability of getting books has changed, and I need to rely on my public library, especially picture books. Like the rest of the world, I now use ebooks far more than I ever did, except for ARCS. I listen to books the most, and this week was no different.

I rediscovered a few titles from one of my favourite authors, Australian John Flanagan, spending time revisiting some old friends, and I am looking forward to a new release the first week in November. If you like well-developed character-driven books, then you too may enjoy the Ranger Apprentice series and its three spin-off series.

Last Week…

  • Burn by Patrick Ness, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt:  Burn took a bit of time to ignite, but once the flame started, it was a great story! Set back in time, the reader sees how parallel worlds, dragons and the launch of Sputnik all intertwine with a variety of characters. Sarah and her father live on a farm who are so poor they resort to hiring a dragon Kazimir to help with the crops. Kazimir is only in this world to witness a prophecy played out. Malcolm is a dragon cult follower and a trained assassin, sent on a mission until he falls in love. Finally, there is the local sheriff, a racist who pulls the trigger to start the dominos to fall and connect them all. I enjoyed this story a great deal but not sure there is a wide audience who will appreciate it. 
  • Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan, narrated by John Keating. In the second book in the Royal Ranger series, Maddie is in her third year of training as an apprentice and plays a significant role in preventing the siege over her grandfather’s throne. The Red Fox Clan wants the law to be changed back so that only men have a claim to the throne. King Duncan changed the law making it possible for female succession, and there is are many who don’t like the idea of a woman having that kind of power. The Clan tricks Maddie’s father Horace to leave the palace leaving it somewhat vulnerable with only Maddie, her mother Cassandra and the ailing King Duncan and a few men to protect the Arulan castle. Twists and turns, readers won’t know the outcome with the cliff hanger ending. I enjoyed spending time with some old friends, and some who are not familiar with the Ranger Apprentice series may want to read at least the first Royal Ranger.
  • Willa the Wisp (Fabled Stories #1) by Jonathon Auxier: Thank you to Edelweiss Plus for an advanced reading copy. Young readers are going to love this series filled with magical creatures, and adults are going to enjoy the rich language and play on words! In this first book, eight-year-old Auggie lives on an island and is in charge of the one-of-a-kind magical beasts, where a new stable appears when there is a new creature. With the arrival of a swamp-like stable but no creature in the stable, Auggie must go into the swamp to find it. He discovers the stable is for Willa, a wisp with magical powers can search for treasure. Some men wish to capture Willa-the-wisp and use her to find treasure. A delightful introduction to what will be a fun series to read independently or as a read-aloud.
  • Class Act (New Kid#2) by Jerry Craft: A stunning sequel to New Kid, this time, Mr. Craft focuses on Jordan and how he is coping with life at RAD in his second year. Chapter headings playing on children lit titles that readers will recognize and smile at and the bonus of the numerous “Easter eggs” to find, this one is just as strong as New Kid.  Mr. Craft has given us another genius graphic novel to help unpack issues of friendship, privledge and racism.  
  • Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang, art by Gurihiru. An adaptation of the 1946 radio act, this story provides an opportunity for readers to learn some history and receive some important messages. The back matter is detailed, connecting Mr. Yang to Superman and his own experiences with racism, along with the history of the Klan, and racism towards Black, Japanese and Chinese. Extremely powerful and engaging, I slowly savoured the many layers of this graphic novel.

Up Next…

I am finishing up some more picture books and will post my favourites next week. I am very excited to get the last portion of Arthur Slade’s Dragon Assasin series – I have been waiting months to finish this exciting series! I tend to be able to listen more than I can read print right now, so any spare time will I will be using to begin These Lucky Stars.

Down the Road…

I cannot remember who introduced me to Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series, but I am grateful! I am so excited to listen to Gemma Whelan take me away again and see the latest adventures of Morrigan Crow.

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Hope you have a great week of reading.

Laurie

Siha Tooskin Knows Series

Author: Charlene Bearhead & Wilson Bearhead

Illustrator: Chloe Bluebird Mustooch

Publisher: Highwater Press

Release Date: May 26/20

A new Indigenous series that primary teachers are going to be asking to use in classrooms and provides readers to see themselves in normal day-to-day activities and also opens a window for others to experience another culture.

This series introduces readers to Siha Tooskin, a young Nakota boy (aka Paul) and the many ways of knowing from everyday activities spent with various family members. Although found in the easy paperback section of my public library, for many readers, this may be classified using Melissa Stewart’s genre classification of narrative nonfiction. I say this because of the amount of learning and information about the Nakota culture and ways of knowing may not be familiar to readers.

There are many reasons to love this series. First off, the books are short in overall page length, the longest being 38 pages and would work as a read-aloud or independent reading for older primary readers. Although it may appear there is a great deal of text on each page, it is large and manageable. There are coloured illustrations and at least one two-page spread in each book. The back matter includes a glossary of Nakota words used and an explanation of pronunciation. My personal favourite the growth of a plant at the beginning of each book, sharing with readers how the plant will grow as they read and can also use as places to rest or stop.

From Siha Tooskin Knows The Sacred Eagle Feather by Charlene Bearhead & Wilson Bearhead,
illus. by Chloe Bluebird Mustooch

Currently, there are eight books in the series; below is a brief synopsis and do not necessarily need to be read in order.

  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Gifts of His People: In this book, Paul Wahasaypa has to bring something to school representing his culture. As he walks home from school with his dad, he learns of the many origins of various Indigenous people in the areas of agriculture, housing, irrigations, transportation, medicine and education.
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Sacred Eagle Feather: Paul goes on a walk with his grandfather to collect eagle feathers. While walking, his grandfather explains why the eagle is so important to Indigenous people; how the eagle feathers are used in dance and considered sacred, including offering tobacco for the gifts of the feathers.
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Strength of His Hair: Paul shares with his grandfather how boys at school tease him about his braids. His grandfather reminds him how his hair is his connection to his mind, body and spirit. That the braid reminds him of his strong family ties and that he is to honour his family by treating everyone with kindness and respect
  • Shiha Tooskin Knows the Catcher of Dreams: Paul races home as he uses his observational skills his Mitoshin (Grandfather) has taught him to see that his grandparents have unexpectedly come for a visit. Paul’s new sibling is about to be born, and as they wait to find out if he has a new baby brother or sister, his Mugoshin (Grandmother) shares the teaching of the dream catcher that she is making for the new grandchild.
  • Shiha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life: Paul gets a chance to go for a walk with his mother in the woods. While walking, she passes on the lessons taught to her by her parents. Paul learns how nature teaches us about strength, generosity, kindness and humility and the part humans play.
  • Shiha Tooskin Knows the Best Medicine: Paul is not feeling well and ends up being in the hospital. In the hospital, Paul learns how there are healing practices from his culture as well as Western medicine to help him in the healing process. I will note that the ambiguity of Paul’s illness leaves the reader with unanswered questions.
  • Shiha Tooskin Knows the Offering of Tobacco: Paul shares with his teacher the importance of offering a gift back to Mother Earth or to a learned individual to show honour and gratitude for gifts and knowledge shared.
  • Shiha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance: Paul brings his friend Jeff to attend his very first Powwow. His grandfather and Paul share with Jeff the different types and descriptions of the dances he will see.

I learned quite a bit reading this series and know that ALL students in elementary schools would gain some new knowledge. Sold individually or as a collection, this is a series that for schools, I would suggest multiple copies and for libraries depending upon your patron’s needs, perhaps the same. As stated earlier, here is a series with a character going about everyday life intertwined with his culture today and connected to the obstacles overcome in the past. I hope that we can see more books like this, written in the same manner and fingers crossed a series published for older elementary students too – there is a void in this area!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: All elementary schools

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 12/20

Last Week…

  • The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hick, Narrated by P. J. Ochlan: I am enjoying the discovery of perhaps lesser-known titles. This art mystery also is a bit of an action-adventure as a boy is found in an art museum and has no recollection of how he got there or who he is. Placed in a foster home with a girl Camille who is closed to his age, the two begin to unravel who he is and how he connects to the art museum. I enjoyed the action and the friendship that developed between Camille and the boy appropriately named Art. The Rembrandt Conspiracy is another stand-alone with these two characters released next year and now is on my list to read.
  • The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley, Narrated by Bahni Tarpin: Another art mystery, where three strangers become a trio looking for missing masterpieces. Jin is a girl who lives with her grandparents, Alex, the loner, busy assisting those in need and Elvin, living on the streets after his grandfather ends up in the hospital after being beaten. Again I liked how the three worked together to figure out clues and to their next steps and provided a window into the Harlem community and culture. 
  • Siha Tooskins Know Series by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead and illustrator Chloe Bluebird Mustooch – this was a fantastic find, and I will have a post about this series this week, so stay tuned.
  • Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen: Olivia is taking a road trip back to where they used to live with her aunt, uncle and older sister Ruth. Olivia is hoping to recreate the joy of the treasure hunts they did on their way to their new home. Ruth would provide the theme words, and Olivia would take the photos while Ruth would find the song lists. This time though, things are different as Ruth has been struggling and often falls into what Olivia calls The Pit. I loved the relationships created with the two girls and the aunt and uncle and how Olivia wanted so badly to help her sister. Another strong sibling relationship book, I look forward to Sarah Allen’s third book.
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear read by the author: This was a fascinating and surprisingly uplifting read about establishing “good” habits and eliminating “bad” ones. I learned a lot from this audiobook and highly recommend it.

Up Next…

  • Skrypuch’s Sky of Bombs Sky by Marsha Forchuk – I got derailed this past week trying to complete year work, and so I still have a few chapters to read, and then I am looking forward to watching the video chat I missed.
  • This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science Is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd Kyi and illustrated by Drew Shannon. I heard about this book during the middle-grade online book club hosted by Kathie and author Colleen Nelson and thought it was an important and relevant book to read.
  • Burn by Patrick Ness: I have started listening to the audiobook and am halfway through – set back in time, the reader sees how parallel worlds, dragons and the launch of Sputnik all intertwine.
  • Shining Willow Book Nominees and Picture Books: My weekly escape with picture books.

Down the Road…

I am so excited for the release of the final instalment of the Dragon Assassin by local author Arthur Slade released Oct. 20th. I have already spent time revisiting Carmen and Brax by listening to the first two audiobooks and excited for the conclusion! Also equally excited to enjoy Gillian McDunn’s These Unlucky Stars after enjoying her previous two books. 

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians celebrating and hope you all had some time to rest and read. We are almost at the midway point of #MGBooktober and I have been getting some great book titles to add to my Options/TBR pile. Hope you are enjoying it as well.

Laurie

#IMWAYR (It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?) – Oct. 5/20

Last Week…

Another busy audiobook week for me, including books that I am sure everyone except me has already listened to or read. Now I am getting a bit nervous as I have been on such a good listening roll and worry for an impending slump, or is that just me?

  • Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor narrated by Patricia Santomasso. Quickly becoming another go-to author, Leslie Connor, has once again driven me to tears with the story of Lydia. Lydia is going to live with her aunt and partner, Eileen when her mother dies from heart failure. Once on the farm, her two aunts, Elloroy, who owns the farm, an adopted troubled dog and treasured goddess creations, become intertwined in a story of love, acceptance and hope. 
  • Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt narrated by Christopher Gebauer: Not sure why I kept putting off enjoying this masterpiece, but oh my Joseph and Jack will be with me for a long time. Foster brother Joseph comes to live with Jack and his parents on a farm. Joesph comes with some heavy-duty issues; he tried to kill a teacher and is a father to newborn Jupiter. A story of so many life lessons; love and loss, friendship and family in a manageable length book. I should have read this book a long time ago.
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, narrated by the author: Wow – this is a must-have book for middle-year classrooms and libraries. I so appreciate and will take any opportunity to listen to an author narrate their books. Jade is a young girl on a scholarship to a predominately white school and has been allowed to be one of twelve girls selected to be part of a black mentorship program. Jade is not so sure she needs the program and feels that perhaps the mentorship program and mentee can learn something from her. A story of a young girl finding her voice, exploring privilege and coming of age novel. 
  • Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake with pictures by Jon Klassen: A new series for our transitional readers, Skunk and Badger, end up being new roommates with polar personalities. I wrote a post on this book last week if you want further details. 
  • Canadian picture books: I enjoyed a variety of past recommendations that I missed and officially looking for Shining Willow nominees. Look for highlights of my favourites at the end of the month.

Up Next…

  • Skrypuch’s Sky of Bombs Sky by Marsha Forchuk – another book that I didn’t quite finish and want to enjoy – it that good and then reward myself with the video chat I missed
  • Breathing Underwater by Sarah Allen: I am glad that this will be my focus this week so I can enjoy the last few chapters of this strong follow-up to her debut What Stars Are Made Of
  • Siha Tooskin Knows Series by Charlene Bearhead, Wilson Bearhead and illustrator Chloe Bluebird Mustooch: just waiting on two titles so I can post about this great new series 
  • Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks – enjoying this art mystery that keeps me on my toes, and I am thrilled there is a stand-alone sequel with Art and Olivia will be released next year.

Down the Road…

I am a big fan of both of these authors, and looking forward to the audiobook version of Patrick Ness’s Burn – A Monster Calls is still in my top ten all-time favourites. I loved Gillian McDunn’s Caterpillar Summer and the Queen Bee and Me with her realistic characters, so I am looking forward to meeting Annie in These Unlucky Stars.

I want to acknowledge the two that started this all. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? has changed from becoming a meme for adults to the sharing of children’s’ lit. This idea to include #kidlit came from Unleashing Reader blogger Kellee Moye and Jen Vincent, from the Teach Mentor Texts, blog. They thought there should be a children’s lit focus too and hence a version for #kidlit began! So every Monday, join in on the fun by sharing what you just finished reading, currently are reading, or are anticipating reading. Use the hashtag #IMWAYR on your social media sites to share, follow what others are reading and to show support for #kidlit bloggers by reading and commenting.

Hope this week has you excited about some books, and if you want to get some suggestion you may want to check out the #MGBooktober hashtag that’s happening right now- there are lots of book suggestions, and the prompts are below if you want to join in on the fun.

Laurie

Skunk and Badger

Author: Amy Timberlake

Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Series: Skunk and Badger #1

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Release Date: September 15/20

Thank you to the author Amy Timberlake and Algonquin Young Readers for the digital copy of this book.

Always on the look out for the transitional early chapter books for readers I am eagerly waiting for the second book in this series and know others will be too after reading the first in the series – yes, it’s that good!

Badger lives in a brownstone house courtesy of his Aunt Lula and has important rock work to do. Badger has a set schedule so he can immerse himself in the important rock work, and as a result, he has ignored letters from his Aunt. When he is interrupted one day by a skunk, presuming he is a salesman with his suitcase wrapped with red twine around it. To his shock and his dismay, the letters he had ignored were to tell him that Skunk was coming to live with him in the brownstone. The two now have to learn to live with one another and chickens…lots of chickens.

Amy Timberlake’s characters will enchant readers, young and old, by pairing these two unlikely animal characters and their polar personalities. Skunk the optimist, cheerful to a fault and Badger laser-focused and set in his ways are loveable characters, and readers will see themselves in both of these new unique characters.

From Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen

Part of the charm, of course, is the drawings by illustrator Jon Klassen, providing us with more insight into their temperament and life in the brownstone. A hilarious must-have addition to classroom and libraries, this will be a fun book to share with young readers and an engaging read-aloud.

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR: One Came Home, That Girl Lucy Moon, and The Dirty Cowboy

OTHER BOOKS BY THIS ILLUSTRATOR: We Found A Hat, The Dark, and Triangle

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Gr. 1-4