When kids start transitioning to chapter books, they need good easy chapter books. This year, I’m jugding the Cybils Easy Reader / Short Chapter Books category and I’m looking for well-written books that kids will love which were published in 2014. Remember that beginning chapter books are characterized by having short chapters, a larger font size, and illustrations that support the story. Here are ten that I’ve recently read and recommend.
Moldylocks and the Three Bears by Norah Z. Jones
Princess (her first name) Pink (her last name) accidentally enters a mixed up fairy tale land through her refrigerator. (Who knew!) While there, she meets a green-haired girl named Moldylocks who suggests they can get some food at the Three Beards house. When the Beards discover the girls, Princess escapes but Moldylocks is captured. Yikes! Will Moldylocks escape? Your kids will crack up at this hilarious and punny story.
Little Red Quacking Hood by Norah Z. Jones
Scaredy Pants W Wolf needs Princess’s help. Little Red Quacking Hood keeps stealing his pies! Wold, Princess, and Moldylocks follow Little Red and discover the reason for the pie theft is not at all what they thought! And, there’s an easy solution. My kids and I adored this silly story with all the mixed-up fairy tale characters. The cartoon-like illustrations and speech bubbles make it especially fun to read. (One of my top five early chapter books of 2014.)
The Miniature World of Marvin & James by Elise Broach, illustrated by Kelly Murphy
SUPER EASY! When James leaves for vacation, his pet beetle, Marvin, and his little sister get into some trouble inside the pencil sharpener. Luckily Marvin figures out how to save them both, James returns from vacation, and all is well. Good for very beginning readers transitioning to chapter books.
Max Loves Muñecas by Zetta Elliott
Muñecas is the word for dolls in Spanish. Max is fascinated by the dolls made in Señor Pepe’s shop. Max learns the story of how Pepe grew up and learned to sew for dolls. It’s a beautiful story and soon Max doesn’t feel ashamed that he wants to work with his hands to make dolls anymore. I loved the writing as well as the realistic story of Pepe’s life that could have easily been a story of desolation and homelessness.
Beasts of Olympus: Beast Keeper #1 by Lucy Coats (Not in Cybils)
It took me a few chapters to start enjoying this book but it was worth it. Pan’s son, Demon, is assigned to care for the creatures in the stables on Olympus — which is a dangerous job considering who is there! Demon learns to love all the creatures and his job and pleases even the toughest critic, Hera, when he heals her favorite creature, the Hydra.
Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake by Julie Sternberg, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
I really loved this story told in first person from Eleanor’s point of view. It’s about the challenges when Eleanor gets jealous of a new girl she thinks her best friend Pearl might like better than her. This made my top five list of best books for the year.
Violet Mackerel’s Possible Friend by Anna Branford, illustrated by Elanna Allen
This is such a sweet story about friendship, I think it’s super relatable to kids. Especially because Violet worries that she’s not fancy enough for her new, rich neighbor friend, Rose. But Rose loves everything about Violet. Love!
Super Lexi by Emma Lesko, illustrated by Adam Winsor
As Lexi describes her feelings and reactions, we begin to understand that she has some differences than many other kids such as noises affect her strongly and she has phobias. Sometimes she just curls up into a ball. But she is the same as other kids, too — she has a fantastic imagination, loves art, and likes having a friend. I can’t decide if kids will like this but I think it might be a great book for kids might relate to feeling different from the other kids.
Greetings From Somewhere The Mystery of the Mosaic by Harper Paris, illustrated by Marcos Calo
Second in a series, this is a simple story about two kids who accompany their parents to Venice, Italy and get the chance to solve two mysteries. I liked the bits of geography and history and suspect this will be an interesting beginning chapter book series.
Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith
While I liked the previous books better, more silliness ensues in this fun, third adventure of Claude and his friend Sir Bobblysock who (unbeknownst to their owners) are on vacation at the beach. At the beach, Claude rescues a man from a shark, wins a sandcastle contest, and helps his new pirate friends find treasure. All in a day’s vacation for Claude. I found the illustrations to be delightful — black and white with pink and red – and loved the idea of a dog who has adventures without his owners knowledge.
All of these early chapter books have been added to my best book list for 7 year old boys and girls here.