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Easy Reader Review: Dog on Bus

Dog on His Bus

Title: Dog on Bus by Eric Seltzer
Penguin Young Readers,
Level 2: Progressing Reader
Guided Level F
Genre: Animals, Transportation, Daily Errands
Dog, the bus driver, goes around town picking up a few of his friends. Cute illustrations, a variety of animals and a simple rhyming text make this book very appealing for preschoolers. We’ve been reading it to my toddler for nearly two weeks as a bedtime book. Beginning readers will appreciate the structured rhyme, giving them the ability to sound out and learn new words. I like the story and the illustrations. There is so much to look at on each page.
I am Dog.
I drive a bus.
I pick up Frog.
Come ride with us.
I drive in rain.
I drive in snow.
I drive in Fog.
Off we go.
The sentences are very short, 3 or 4 words. The font is relatively large, but not as much as earlier chapter books. There is a story, from start to finish. I like the different errands the riders go on. Hat shopping, browsing books, going out for lunch, etc. There are a lot of picture and context clues to help navigate the story. The story, I think, will be a bit too simple for older kids. But I think kids in Kindergarten and younger will really enjoy this book. The book reminds me of Byron Barton’s My Bus. Although My Bus doesn’t have the rhymes, the sentences are likewise short and simple, and the plot is fairly similar. The only difference with My Bus, is that its more of a math-orientated book.
PS – Suggested Reading
Hello, School Bus! My Bus Wheels on the Bus .
© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld
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Easy Reader Review: Best Friends

Best Friends

Title: Best Friends by Anna Michaels
Green Light Readers, 1997
Level 1: Buckle Up! Getting Ready to Read
Genre: Friendship

Zack and Dan are best friends who share a few experiences in this short collection of stories. They pick apples for a snack and play a guessing game.

Green Light Readers are quickly becoming one of my favorite easy reader publishers. Although the books tend to be much older than the publications, they are just as relevant and somewhat better in many ways. Although the text is simple and repetitive, there is a lot of diversity with the vocabulary throughout the book. What I really enjoy is the series of reading comprehension questions at the end of the each chapter. Parents and teachers can ask their children these open-ended questions to reinforce and expand on what the child read and learned from the story. There are also a few activities related to the stories at the end of the book. I like interactive books like this because there is so much more to the book than a single-use read. The book can be referred to multiple times.

Pick this.
Pick that.
One in my cap.
Two in your hat.

The two activities in the back are very simple and can be done with regular household craft supplies. Making a small book and drawing a mural of a favorite activity. I also appreciate the diversity of the two boys in this book, and their wonder and amusement at such simple activities as snacking on apples from an apple tree and looking for a snail in the garden. These are the little things that preschoolers and kindergarteners find so much joy in and I like to see books that reflect that same level of contentedness in the books.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Muddy, Mud, Bud by Patricia Lakin

Muddy, Mud, BudMuddy, Mud, Bud by Patricia Lakin
Penguin Young Readers, 2014
Level 1: Emergent Reader
Ages: PreK to 2nd Grade
Genre: cars, mud, cleanliness

Bud is muddy. He loves to roll around and play in the mud. One day, he decides that he must have more mud and comes across a strange looking building. Believing it must have more mud, Bud goes through the doors and soon spick-and-span clean as he goes through the car-wash! Can he find a way to be muddy again?

I found this book to be an incredibly cute story. One that young kids who like to get messy will greatly appreciate. As a level 1 book, the text is repetitive, but not dull. The illustrations are vibrant, and the expressions on Bud’s face are priceless. His determination at wanting more mud and his surprise at coming out clean got an audible chuckle out of me. There are so many scientific activities that be incorporated with the reading of this book. You can discuss the differences between being clean and dirty, and how water differs from mud. You can talk about emotions and expectations based on Bud’s experiences in the book. Ask your child to tell you how they feel when getting dirty when playing outside. Take it one step further and let your child play with water and mud and talk about the differences in consistency, color, weight, etc. You can teach kids how to make mud, just like Bud. Add water to dirt and viola. You are all set for an afternoon of fun in the yard or at the park. You can explain to kids that mud-water-mud is the never ending cycle to life and that yes, baths are a necessary part of the cycle. So, there is always the hope getting dirty again after a cleanse. I like that the full-color illustrations focus mostly on Bud and his expressions. Although there are a lot of little details in the background, for the most part, its kept simple and the attention is on Bud.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff

Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff!Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff by Tish Rabe
Harper Collins, 2013
I Can Read: My First
Series: Huff and Puff
Ages: Pre-K to K
Genre: Farm animals, trains, friendship
Source: Library Copy

Train duo Huff and Puff (front and back) like to carry a lot of stuff. One day, they decide to add even more to their load. But can they carry it all up the hill? I’ve taken this book home to my toddler and he adores it. The rhymes are absolutely wonderful and the illustration are endearing and do a good job of carrying the story.

Puff got a kite, a bike, and a boat.
“Take me!” said a goat in a pretty pink coat.

The illustrations, I can only describe as warm and fuzzy. They are so colorful, slightly cartoonish, but very endearing. Designed for a pre-reader, there is a lot of repetition, large font, and very short sentences. My only complaint is the word “stuff” is very overused at the end of the book. I felt like there could have been another word pairing used instead. For a pre-schooler, the storyline is a bit simplistic, although it does teach some kind of lesson about not being a hoarder and sharing the excess. I like this book for toddlers because of its simplicity and the vibrant illustrations.

There are a few other books in the Huff and Puff series.

Huff and Puff [NookBook] Huff and Puff and the New Train Huff and Puff Sing Along: My First I Can Read

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Historical Fiction Family Booklist: The Tudors

all in the family

If you’ve been following me on my other blog, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been a bit obsessed with the Tudors and Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Using that as my inspiration, I’ve created this family friendly booklist of the Tudors and their sagas and scandalous behavior. There is a book on the topic for nearly every age group. Its a great way to start a family discussion, learn about history and introduce your interests to your child’s while still maintain age-appropriate reading materials for everyone.

For adults

Jean Plaidy – The Tudor Saga

1.  2. Katharine, the Virgin Widow... 3. The Shadow of the Pomegrana...4. The King's Secret Matter (T... 5. 6.

7. The Sixth Wife (Tudor Saga,... 8. The Thistle and the Rose (T...9.Mary, Queen of France (Tudo... 10.The Spanish Bridegroom (Tud... 11. Gay Lord Robert (Tudor Saga...

  1. To Hold the Crown
  2. Katharine, the Virgin Widow
  3. The Shadow of the Pomegranate
  4. The King’s Secret Matter
  5. Murder Most Royal
  6. The King’s Confidante
  7. The Sixth Wife
  8. The Thistle and the Rose
  9. Mary, Queen of France
  10. The Spanish Bridegroom
  11. Lord Robert

Carolly Erickson


  • The Spanish Queen
  • The Favored Queen
  • The Unfaithful Queen
  • The Last Wife of Henry VIII
  • Rival to the Queen

For teens


  • VIII by HM Castor
  • Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi
  • The King’s Rose by Alissa Libby
  • Mary Bloody Mary / Patience, Princess Catherine / Beware Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer

For kids


  • Doomed Queen Anne by Carolyn Meyer
  • The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi
  • The Royal Diaries – Elizabeth the First: Red Rose of the House of Tudor by Kathryn Lasky

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Clara and Clem: Under the Sea

Clara and Clem Under the Sea
Under the Sea by Ethan Long
Penguin Young Readers, 2014
Level 1: Emergent Reader
Series: Clara and Clem
Ages: 5-6
Genre: Underwater Life

Friends Clara and Clem taking a rhyming look at underwater life in this colorful easy reader. They hug sharks, find buried treasure and more.

This was one of the Cybils shortlist titles that my group reviewed. Its a fairly fun read. I love the vibrant illustrations, the graphics pretty much sell the tale. I did find the text to be pretty simple and some of the rhymes felt forced. This is third book of  the Clara and Clem books. I like the range of topics that the books cover: Clara and Clem Take a Ride, in Outer Space. I’m curious to see where they go next.

Clara and Clem Take a Ride (HC) Clara and Clem in Outer Space

Overall, its a fun book that introduces new vocabulary in a fun way. The illustrations are really the selling point of the books for me. I like the pair of Clara and Clem, although there isn’t really much to their characters. They are just the vehicles that take us along with their adventures.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Friday the Scaredy Cat: The Scariest Day Ever…So Far

Friday the Scaredy Cat: The Scariest Day Ever . . . So Far (Ready-to-Read)The Scariest Day Ever … So Far by Kara McMahon
Simon Spotlight, 2013
Level 1: Star Reader
Series: Friday the Scaredy Cat
Ages: 5-7
Genre: Cats, fear

Events unfold as Friday the scaredy cat experiences the scariest day of his life, seeing a number of new things in his house all in one day!

Friday woke up one day to see a new pink bed next to his blue bed. Being new made the bowl instantly scary and Friday hid under the rug. After that, he goes around the house, spotting all sorts of new objects and smells. New bowl, new toys and even new food! But as Friday keeps exploring, he finds out what is behind all these new and different things. With the help of a new friend, Friday realizes that perhaps they aren’t so scary afterall.

Trying new things, or seeing things that are different can be intimidating to some kids. They don’t like change or don’t understand it. I like the way this book approaches this type of fear. The illustrations do a fantastic job of highlighting Friday’s emotions as he goes about his day, discovering all these new things in his home.

As a level 1 book, this book features larger font, repetitious phrases and a humor that children will be able to relate to.

It was different, so he was scared. Friday hid behind the sofa.

Friday’s hiding place changes with every new object that he encounters. I do like the ending, when he discovers who all those new objects belong to. I like that Friday tries to be brave and scary when its time to meet the “monster.” This is as great book to read when talking about upcoming changes that will be taking place at home. Are you moving, or expecting another child? Will there be a reshuffling of routines at the house? This book deals with these topics in a way that lets kids express their emotions through Friday the scaredy cat.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld.

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Easy Reader Review: The Loopy Coop Hens: Pip’s Trip

Pip's TripPip’s Trip by Janet Morgan Stoeke
Penguin Young Readers, 2012
Level 2: Progressing Reader
Series: The Loopy Coop Hens
Ages: 5-7
Genre: Farm animals, friendship

Every day, hens Midge, Pip and Dot watch as the farmer’s truck drives away. One day, Pip climbs onto the truck to see the “wide world” and goes on an expected journey.

The book is divided into 7 pages, about 3-4 pages each. From start to the finish, the story is engaging, with wonderful graphics that illustrate the storyline. There is some intriguing plot development taking place throughout the story, especially the fun twist as to what Pip regards as his joy-ride in the truck. This is the second book of the Loopy Coop Hens series.

As a beginning reader book, it features large font size, and repetition of phrases and humor to appeal to a wide audience. Although the chapters are short, I felt like there were a couple too many. It made the story feel unnecessarily choppy. Although I do like the message of being brave and trying new things. Pip’s curiosity took her on an unexpected adventure, even if she didn’t actually go anywhere. It is a great book for starting a discussion about trying new things and going to new places.

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Book Review: Loki’s Wolves by KL Armstrong & MA Marr

Loki's Wolves (The Blackwell Pages, #1)

Loki’s Wolves (The Blackwell Pages book 1) by KL Armstrong and MA Marr
Genre: Fiction, Norse Mythology,
Age Range: 5th – 8th Grade
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013

Norse mythology foretold of the epic battle of Ragnarok, otherwise known as The End of the World. An event that only the gods can stop. Fast forward centuries later to South Dakota, where Matt Thorson (a descendent of Thor) along with Fen and Laurie Brekke (descendants of Loki) are now placed with the responsibility of fighting monsters the size of the moon and saving humanity. But first, they need to assemble an unbeatable team made up of descendants of other Norse gods. Will this new generation stand a chance?

I really wanted to like this story, but there were a few things that just held it back throughout the entire book. I wish this story had more of a background. Unlike Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (which it’s often likened to), there was no big reveal about the character’s relation to the gods Thor and Loki. They just know what they are and what their powers are. The entire town knows. It was a little bit of an awkward start to the book for me. Everything just starts off running. I also wish that there was more history involving the Vikings and Norse gods in the books. It’s almost as if the writers expect readers to already have a preconception of Norse mythology going into the book. Although many of the myths are mentioned throughout the book, I still wish there was more detail or even a little FAQ at the back of the book. I do hope that this will encourage kids to seek out these books on their own after reading this book.

Matt and Fen are overly protective of Laurie. As much as she can stand up for herself and has proven herself at every challenge, we still hear both of them try to protect her as if she’s a little child. It was annoying from the start, but the repetition of this stance was frustrating. I wish she would only  to tell them to stop being overprotective once or twice maybe. Not at each and every obstacle throughout the entire book. Everything is somewhat simple in this book. Matt needs to find the rest of the descendants to form his group for the battle. But there is little to no challenge in gathering the group. He just happens to find them. They easily believe his story and are on his side. It was all too easy, to rushed, for me. In a way, it felt like the authors wanted to cram in so much into the first book, that they didn’t expand or extrapolate areas that would have made the book more thoughtful.

What I liked about the book
I like the array of characters, I think they are all unique and bring something interesting to the group and the story. I like the even mix of boys and girls in the group. I think this is a book that will be an easy sell for both genders. It’s very action-packed with wonderful illustrations. The characters are flawed, but in very relatable ways. I think this is a book that will appeal across the board to many ages and reading interests. I like that the chapters alternated perspectives between Matt, Laurie and Fen. Although these three are the main leads, I hope that the other group members will have a voice in the upcoming books in the series. This is the first book of the series, so it’s really the launching pad for all the characters and the plot. Everything is just sort of jumbled together. I do plan on reading the next book. I hope that the authors slowed the pace down to give the characters more breathing room for their own back-stories. I’m really curious to know what’s going on with the twins and Balder especially. And what Matt’s grandfather has planned for the family.

Odin’s Raven’s is book 2 of the series, it was published in 2014. Book 3, Thor’s Serpents is set to be published March 1st this year.


© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Picture Book Review: This Little Chick by John Lawrence

This Little Chick by John Lawrence
Picture Book, 2-4 years
Genre: Farm Animals

A little chick travels around the farm visiting different animals, learning new sounds.

Although there is no shortage of farm animal books for toddlers, I like this book a lot for its simplicity. There is a basic stanza repeated every time the little chick goes to meet a new friend. I like how it mimics toddlers building their vocabulary during the repetition stage of the word spurt. Children are sponges with information and they pick up on language very quickly. This book also reminded me of Bark, George and The Cow That Went Oink.

Primary Reading Skills

Make Sounds (Phonological Awareness) This book will have you making all sorts of animal sounds. Why not take it to the next step and include animals not mentioned in the book? Make the wrong songs for cats, dogs and mice. Have your child correct you with the right sound.

Love Books (Print Motivation) This is a fun story that kids will want to read and reread. Make the best of your acting skills and really bring the animal noises to life.

How To Use This Book

For the parents
Repetition is so important for young children learning new words. This book has that, but in a very simple and uncluttered way. Encourage you child to name the animals & make the proper noises.

For the librarians
This is an ideal book for a baby/toddler storytime. The book is quite large and colorfully illustrated, which is a bonus for large crowds. The text is repetitive, so it’s easy to memorize. Parents and children will also jump in to finish the page by making the appropriate animal noise. Parent participation is vital for children to develop that love of literacy and learning.

This would also make for a great flannel board story, or a puppet show.

Suggested Reading

 Off We Go by Jane Yolen

  Bark George by Jules Feiffer

  The Cow That Went Oink by Bernard Most

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld.

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