Early Reader/Chapter Books

CABIN IN THE SNOW (Book Two of the Prairie Sky Series) by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Patrick Faricy (Aladdin, 2002). The story of Charlie’s trip into Lawrence with Papa. When Papa decides to help defend Lawrence from border ruffians, Charlie has to drive the wagon back to their claim and face a blizzard and a newborn baby alone. Each book includes an authentic recipe from the time. Teachers looking for history curriculum tie-ins (especially Kansas teachers) to help explain the complicated struggle between free-state settlers and proslavery proponents should consider this series. Ages 6-up. Recommendation by Frances Hill.

DRAGONLING by Jackie French Koller (Minstrel, 2000). Darek's initial ambition to become a hunter of dragons shifts when he befriends a dragoning and must bring it home. First in a series (all recommended). Perfect for the pre-Potter set. Ages 8-up. Look for sequels.

I'M SORRY, ALMIRA ANN by Jane Kurtz (Holt, 1999). This beautifully written historical chapter book takes young readers on the Oregon Trail with Sarah and Almira Ann. A story of friendship as well as a great curriculum bridge for teachers. Ages 8-up.

Indian Shoes by Cynthia Leitich SmithINDIAN SHOES by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2002). Ray and Grampa Halfmoon face the challenges of daily life with love and humor in this collection of short stories set in Chicago and rural Oklahoma. Together, they encounter homesickness, bad hair cuts, mystery, artistic competition, and a wedding without proper pants for the ring bearer. Ages 7-up.

JUAN BOBO: FOUR FOLKTALES FROM PUERTO RICO (An I Can Read Book) by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Ernesto Ramos Nieves (HarperCollins, 1994). Bright, festive illustrations accent charming, funny text. Rendered with great enthusiasm and authenticity. Ages 7-up.

MINNIE SAVES THE DAY: THE ADVENTURES OF MINNIE by Melodye Benson Rosales (Little Brown, 2001). Dolls come to life in this new hardcover chapter book series with lovely color interior illustrations. The story has cross-cultural appeal but is also the rare fantasy in an African American family and community. It also works as a window to Chicago's Bronzeville community in the 1930s, where the story is set. Ages 5-9.

REGULAR GUY by Sarah Weeks (HarperCollins, 1999). Twelve-year old Guy is normal and relatively well-adjusted. His parents are weird beyond belief. So he decides he must have been switched at birth with the oddest kid at school. Then they try to prove it to their parents. Ages 8-up.

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KALEY by Dian Curtis Regan (Darby Creek, 2005). Mr. Serrano has asked Kaley to write essays about world history, and she's filling her notebook with them--doodles and all. She's including FACTS and footnotes and graphs and maps (okay, with maybe a little urging), and, more importantly, she's including her unique and spirited interpretation of times past. Meanwhile, Kaley has a home to find for a puppy, adjust to her new baby brother (not sister!), and deal with her messy cousin Cal. Smart, funny, vulnerable, and energetic, Kaley's notebook is a first-rate read, and that's a FACT! Ages 9-up. More on this title from Cynsations.

Chet Gecko by Bruce HaleThe Story Behind The Story: Bruce Hale on the Chet Gecko mystery series from Cynthia Leitich Smith Children's Literature Resources. Find out why "the gecko would not be denied."