Got a feisty little girl in your family? We have quite a few: Molly, Charlotte, Hazel. . .and lots more in our neighborhoods and among extended friends and family. We’re always on the lookout for new beginning reader chapter books that will delight them with the kinds of fun and adventure they can chuckle over, enjoy, and learn from. Not just for girls, these heroines are great reads for boys, too–and for the parents and teachers who get drawn into their adventures.
Frankly, Frannie by A.J. Stern, illustrated by Doreen Mulryan Marts
You can’t help but love Frannie! She’s an original–with always-hatching-plans in mind. In this first of the series, she is ready for business–literally! Her class is going on a fieldtrip to a radio station, and she wants in. She brings her handmade business cards and resume (and mustard packets -so much more grown up than ketchup), ready to leave them off at the station. But of course, she can’t stop there, and trouble follows as she takes to the airwaves. As one friend told me, “She’s a good girl who makes makes bad decisions.” The whole series is perfect for those feisty girls who’d like a contemporary Ramona. The illustrations are spot on, and the use of different fonts will also draw in young readers. And there are lots of books in the series–with a new one due out this summer!
Sophie the Awesome by Lara Bergen
Sophie is a reader. Her heroes are Ramona the Brave, Nate the Great, and Harriet the Spy. She decides her own name is just too boring–there’s even another Sophie in her class, so she is called Sophie M. Not acceptable! She needs a new name–and finds one. But how to convince her friends and classmates she is as Awesome as her new name? After some mis-steps, she finds her way. Nice introduction to a spunky third-grader. Another series that will be a hit for early readers who want to read Sophie (and her best friend Kate’s) further adventures.
Just Graceby Cherise Mericle Harper
Poor Grace wants to be known for herself–especially after her somewhat frenzied teacher makes the unfortunate decision to call her “Just Grace” to distinguish her from the three other Graces in her third-grade class. This series is easy to distinguish from others, though–with its particular brand of comic wit and humor that make it a winner. Grace and the other kids in this book–and the series–come alive as real kids, ones you’d like to meet and hang out with. I love her “teeny tiny superpower” for instance—she can tell if someone is unhappy and often tries to fix it. Of course, her good intentions often backfire. . . Chapter headings give a taste of what goes on in Grace’s life: “What Happened At Home That Was Completely Surprising” and “Spying For A Good Reason Is Not Bad” Check out the Just Grace website with its superpower quiz, podcasts, excerpts, and downloads.
Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sarah Pennypacker
Being chosen to be Friend of the Week is pretty special in Clementine’s third-grade classroom. You get to be line leader, feed the fish, collect the milk money–and best of all, at the end of the week: you get a friend booklet signed by all your classmates letting you know the ways they appreciate you. Clementine is determined to make it the best week ever–but of course, things go awry. A missing kitten, forgotten commitments, adventure and creative subplots are all part of this early elementary read. Clementine herself is funny, smart and very observant. She is also remarkably kind-hearted. Combine that quality with her powers of observation and she always seems to know exactly the right thing to do to help people in the end. A great series to introduce to your own feisty girls.