Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

Skunk & Badger are an odd couple you’ll love

Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger #1), by Amy Timberlake/Illustrated by Jon Klassen,, (Sept. 2020, Algonquin), $18.95, ISBN: 9781643750057

Ages 8-12

This is an utterly adorable, amusing story of two unlikely friends. Badger, a rock scientist, lives on his own in his aunt’s house, doing very important rock science; when Skunk shows up at his door, he’s a little taken aback – he clearly hasn’t been reading his aunt’s letters, telling him he’ll be getting a roommate! – and he reluctantly lets Skunk into his home, and, slowly but surely, his life. You see, Skunk is much more of a free spirit than Badger: he cooks delicious meals, zings potatoes across the room while he’s cooking, and makes friends with chickens! Badger, who lives a functional and regimented life, is not sure about this whole Skunk business. After a big sleep over with the chickens leads to an incident where Skunk accidentally sprays Badger, the two have a falling and Skunk leaves; as he’s sadly said before, “No one wants a skunk”. Skunk’s departure gets Badger thinking about what makes a good friend – and is determined to find Skunk and makes amends.

Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake and Caldecott Medal Winner Jon Klassen create an enduring story of compassion, embracing differences, and friendship. Badger is a lovable curmudgeon, paired with idealist, extroverted Skunk – but Skunk knows all too well how he’s perceived by others. When Badger loses his temper and calls him “vermin”, Skunk draws the line between endearing grouchiness and unacceptable treatment. Jon Klassen’s artwork fits perfectly with this sedate, sweet story; he gives memorable scenes life and makes this a book about friendship that kids will turn to again and again. You know what I’m going to say: Frog and Toad fans, this is the book for you. I can’t wait to see what Skunk and Badger get up to next.

Skunk and Badger has starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist.


Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, geek culture, Historical Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Reading Rundown, Reading Challenge!

There are SO many great books coming out over the next few weeks, WOW. My reading mojo came back with a vengeance, thankfully, about a month ago, and I have been working on the TBR; everything I pick up has been really good stuff. I’m also starting to come out of an overall blue period (like Picasso, but not as talented), so I’m hoping my blogging can keep up with my reading habits. Let’s give it a whirl.

Con Quest, by Sam Maggs, (June 2020, Imprint), $16.99, ISBN: 9781250307279

Ages 9-13

The first book is Sam Maggs’s middle grade novel, Con Quest. If you already know Sam Maggs, I welcome you, my geek friend. If you don’t, this is a great place to start. She’s a geek girl who’s written comics, nonfiction about fandom, and awesome women in history, but this is her first middle grade novel. And what a novel it is. It’s a love letter to fandom and con life; to Supernatural fans and quests for charity; to friendship, family, and that first blush of a new crush. If you dig fandom, are in fandom, or are fandom-adjacent, you’ll recognize the players here. At a con that’s remarkably similar to San Diego Comic Con, twin siblings Cat and Alex are competing in an intense quest, run by one of their fave celebs, to benefit a charity. The big prize is getting to meet the celeb, but first, they have a gauntlet of geeky challenges to complete, all while dodging their older sister, who is SUCH a drag. There are great, realistic characters here – con life is truly stranger than fiction, friends – and moments you’ll recognize and love. The characters are fun and diverse, with a diversity in gender identity and culture; one of the main characters, Alex, is autistic and Sam does a good job at describing how he experiences things, as opposed to his slightly intense (and sometimes frustrating) sister, Cat.

Introduce Cat and Alex to your readers, then get a (virtual) library con up and running to introduce them to the joy that is fandom. Hey, Free Comic Book Day is running for most of the summer!


Diana and the Island of No Return, by Aisha Saeed, (July 2020, Random House Children’s), $16.99, ISBN: 9780593174470

Ages 9-13

All hail the middle grade superhero novels! We are – hopefully – getting our long-awaited Wonder Woman 1984 movie this October, so TALK THIS UP. Our tweens and teens have Tempest Tossed, a phenomenal Wonder Woman original graphic novel; middle graders and tweens now have Diana and the Island of No Return, by Aisha Saeed. Here, Diana is a tween herself, a princess forbidden to learn to fight, despite living on an island of warrior women. She’s hoping to persuade her mother, Queen Hippolyta, this year… maybe during the festivities, when her best friend, Princess Sakina arrives, they can plan an approach? Before the festivities begin, Diana discovers a stowaway – a BOY – on Sakina’s mother’s ship, and learns that the entire island of Themyscira has been put under a sleeping spell. Diana and Sakina, the only two awake on the island, must travel with this boy to his island, where a demon lies in wait, wanting to capture Diana.

This is the first in a Wonder Woman trilogy, and Aisha Saeed wastes no time getting to the action. Diana and Sakina’s friendship is well-written and realistic; she creates larger-than-life figures and makes them very human; the girls are giggly best friends who plan to sleep in the same room so they can stay up all night, and yet also ready, at a moment’s notice, to go on a dangerous mission to fight a demon and free their mothers. It all comes together beautifully, with great world-building, pacing, and storytelling. I can’t wait for the next book.

Follow the DC Comics Kids Twitter and Instagram for DC Kids Camp activities. There are coloring sheets, videos, and crafts that everyone will love: you know you want to color, too.


Rise of Zombert (The Zombert Chronicles), by Kara LaReau/Illustrated by Ryan Andrews, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $15.99, ISBN: 9781536201062

Ages 8-12

This first book in a new middle grade series is a good one for kids who want to read something creepy, but not TOO scary. In a corporate town where everything is owned and run by YummCo Foods, a black cat escapes a lab. He’s found by a girl named Mellie, who discovers the filthy, ragged cat in a dumpster and takes him home to nurse back to health. She names him Bert and decides that he’s going to be the pet she’s always wanted… but Berg wants blood. He has a taste for heads, in particular; after decapitating Mellie’s stuffed animals, he heads out for less stuffy game. As cats would do, Mellie discovers Bert’s version of sharing a meal with her, when she keeps finding headless birds and mice left for her. Mellie’s best friend, Danny, is convinced the cat is a zombie, and readers will get the feeling that there’s a lot more going on at YummCo than the oh-so-friendly representatives will let on. And Bert? Well, he can’t really understand why Mellie isn’t appreciating his gifts, he still feels something for the girl, but nothing can stop him from his mission: revenge and freeing the other animals in the lab.

I loved how this book built and built up the suspense, but it ended so abruptly, I had to check and make sure I wasn’t reading an excerpt. It’s a fast-paced read, and will definitely invest readers right away. The black and white sketches add to the moody atmosphere of the book, and the ending will leave everyone waiting for the sequel. Kara LaReau is the author of the Infamous Ratsos series, so she knows how to write for a younger audience and get things moving along quickly. Ryan Andrews illustrated another book I love, The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobson.


The Mulberry Tree, by Allison Rushby, (July 2020, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536207613

Ages 9-13

I LOVE a good creepy book, and this one is amazing. If you’re a Mary Downing Hahn reader, run to your computer and request or buy The Mulberry Tree. Ten-year-old Immy (Imogene) and her parents have moved from Australia to the English countryside as her father battles depression. They decide to rent an adorable thatched English cottage, but the realtor – and the town – have their misgivings about anyone living there. You see, there’s an cursed mulberry tree in the backyard; a tree that’s rumored to have stolen two girls away on the eves of their 11th birthdays. People cross the street rather than walk by the tree, and when Immy’s father speaks out on the ridiculousness of a tree kidnapping girls, Immy finds herself even more of a pariah at school. But when she starts hearing a strange song in her head, and seeing the tree move, she begins to wonder whether the rumors may be true after all. What’s the story of the tree? Immy’s going to have to do some investigating to find out, and she’d better hurry… her 11th birthday is coming.

This book hooked me from the first page. It deals with depression and grief, and how it can drive a wedge into a family; a spooky tree with a cursed history, and mean girls. If you have readers who love a bit of the creepy, with some supernatural thrown in, give them this book. I read this one in one night, because I refused to put it down until I was done. The setting, the pacing, everything built at such a wonderful pace, and the resolution… chef’s kiss good. One of my favorite Quarantine Reads so far.

Allison Rushby wrote 2018’s The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery; an historical fiction ghost story. It’s a good one; pick it up if you haven’t had the chance yet.


Last but not least, a reading challenge! What better way to keep track of all of the great books you’ve been reading with your kids (you are reading with them, aren’t you?) than by working through reading challenges together? I just received an email with seven printable challenges, all free, all downloadable, through Redbubble. There’s Book Bingo; a Cross-Genre reading list; a Habit Tracker; a Create Your Own Reading List; and my favorite, a Reading Coloring Sheet where you can color in books on a bookshelf as you read (and, if you’re like me, try to write itty bitty names on the spines). These add a little bit of color to the same old boring reading logs the kids get sent home with every summer, so try one or two out. You can view all the reading challenges here.

As always, I received eArcs of all the books I talked about in exchange for reviews. Thanks for reading, and go get some books!

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

Shhh… there’s a pony on the 12th floor, but you’re not supposed to know.

Pony on the Twelfth Floor, by Polly Faber/Illustrated by Sarah Jennings, (June 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209303

Ages 8-12

Kizzy is a girl who would love to have a pony of her own. She has pony pictures in her room, she thinks of ponies all the time, but she never expects to discover a pony snacking on donuts in her grocery store! She seizes the day and claims the pony as hers, rather than have the store owner call the authorities. Now, after sneaking her new pet – now named Donut – into her 12th-floor apartment, she has to figure out how to keep Donut a secret from the super and figure out how to gently break the news to her mother. Oh, and how to keep the grounds clean, because when Donut has to go… it’s pretty stinky. Her best friend Pawel tries to talk some sense into Kizzy, but it’s hard to be heard over the joyful shrieks of his younger twin sisters, who are firmly in favor of keeping Donut.

Polly Faber has created a sweet story about a girl finding out that getting what one wishes for isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. It’s a light, fun, happy story with a kind characters and a sweet, snacky pony, that animal fiction fans will love. Black and white illustrations throughout up the cute factor. It’s a good book to introduce chapter book readers to longer, slightly denser books. Set in the UK, Kizzy and her family are brown-skinned, Pawel and his family are Polish. Pony on the Twelfth Floor is a good fit for the Imagine Your Story Summer Reading theme this year: imagine what would happen if you discovered your dream pet in the supermarket? In the park, or walking down the street?  This could work for a book group or a series of readalouds, too.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Chapter books to take on a camping trip

I know, right now, camping is probably the furthest thing from your minds, but why not? My older boys loved “camping out” in our living room, spreading comforters on the floor for cushioning, and staying up all night giggling and falling asleep while talking into the wee hours of the morning. My eldest “camps” in his little brother’s room in the dog days of summer, when Gabe’s air conditioner is a lot cooler than Will’s. And Gabe and his buddies have had sleepovers where they camp out, sleeping bags all over the living room, and stuffed animals, action figures, and assorted iPads strewn about. So why not consider a camping trip for your kiddos now? Hike on over to a room that can fit you all, and settle in with some snacks, some games, and some good books.

McTavish Goes Wild, by Meg Rosoff/Illustrated by Grace Easton, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $21.99, ISBN: 9781536203318

Ages 7-10

Originally published in the UK, this is the second book in the McTavish Stories series, starring a rescued dog and his adopted family – although, as McTavish would tell you, he’s the one who rescued them. The Peachey family is a little quirky, as most families are; in this second installment, the family frets over where to go on vacation. Young Betty Peachey wants to go camping, but Pa Peachey is convinced that nature is far too dangerous to be out and about in. Teenage brother Ollie just wants to be somewhere where there are dance clubs where he can find a girlfriend, and big sister Ava wants to stay home and read German philosophy. Thank goodness for Ma Peachey, who sides with Betty. Once out in nature, McTavish sees that it’s up to him to get this family acclimated to the Great Outdoors, in sweet and fun fashion. The story is gentle, moves at a leisurely pace with humor throughout. Black and white drawings give life to the text. Intermediate readers will get a kick out of this quirky family and their canine companion, who seems to be two steps ahead of the game. You won’t need to have read the first book, Good Dog McTavish, to jump right into this series, but animal fiction fans will want to – make sure you have both on the shelf.

The Infamous Ratsos Camp Out, by Kara LaReau/Illustrated by Matt Myers, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $19.99, ISBN: 9781536200065

Ages 6-10

The fifth book in the Infamous Ratsos series Ralphie and Louie Ratso going on a camping trip with the Big City Scouts, with Grandpa Ratso as their guide. Even with Grandpa’s guidance and experience as a Scoutmaster, the Scouts learn that camping isn’t as easy as they think it is: pitching a tent, making a fire, and finding their way through the woods is hard! They have to learn to work together, and they have to learn that asking for help is the most important skill a Scout – or anyone – can have. With fun scout-meets-urban living references to badges like City Smarts and Cleanup, and scouting levels like Streets and Avenues instead of Cub and Weeblo, this is a cute addition to the series. Black and white cartoony illustrations of the Ratsos throughout the book really engage the reader. Enjoy a chapter sample from Candlewick’s page and consider adding this series to your intermediate collection if you haven’t yet.

Make some merit badges – all you need is paper, scissors, and imagination! Come up with fun merit badge ideas: ate a vegetable, read for 30 minutes, Kitchen Science, Minecrafter. The possibilities are endless, and we’re not going anywhere, anytime soon. Make it fun.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

A new intermediate series arrives in the US: Jasmine Green Rescues

I’ve just finished two books in an intermediate series that’s debuting here this month. Jasmine Green Rescues, originally published in the UK, is a series of books about a young girl named Jasmine. Her dad is a farmer; her mom is a farm vet, and Jasmine and her best friend, Tom, both adore animals.

Jasmine Green Rescues: A Piglet Called Truffle, by Helen Peters/Illustated by Ellie Snowdon, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536210255

Ages 7-11

We meet Jasmine when her mom, Nadia, is called to help a farmer with one of his laboring cows. Jasmine tags along and visits a new litter of piglets, noticing that a runt has been overlooked and is in desperate need of special care. She quietly “adopts” the runt, when the farmer decides it’s best to let nature take its course, but Jasmine’s parents discover the piglet, which Jasmine has already named Truffle, and suggest Jasmine clear it with the farmer before allowing her to nurse Truffle back to health. Jasmine and her best friend, Tom, quickly discover that Truffle is pretty smart, which will come in very handy when Jasmine boards Tom’s guinea pigs!

This first book in the Jasmine Green series puts the overall theme of the series into motion. We meet Jasmine and her best friend, Tom, who are working toward creating a veterinary/pet boarding practice. Jasmine’s older sister and younger brother make appearances, as do her parents, to give us more depth and set up further adventures. Having a veterinarian mother and farmer father means readers get some good information about farm animals and pet care, too! There’s a lot packed into this slim volume, but animal lovers will embrace Jasmine and company, especially with Ellie Snowdon’s black and white illustrations adding adorable animals and farm scenes to enjoy. You can enjoy a preview chapter at Candlewick’s webpage.


Jasmine Green Rescues: A Duckling Called Button, by Helen Peters/Illustated by Ellie Snowdon, (March 2020, Candlewick Press), $14.99, ISBN: 9781536210255

Ages 7-11

In this second Jasmine Green outing, Jasmine and Tom rescue a group of orphaned duck eggs when an unleashed dog wreaks havoc on Jasmine’s father’s land. The work is hard and heartbreaking, but so rewarding when one duckling survives and bonds with Jasmine. Readers learn how much care goes into taking care of eggs and baby animals here, going through the emotional work with Jasmine throughout the story. Like Truffle the piglet, Button is a pretty extraordinary duckling and befriends other animals on the farm, becoming especially close to a lamb Jasmine’s dad cares for. Can Button help save the day – and the when an emergency happens at the farm?

Like A Piglet Called Truffle, A Duckling Called Button is sweet with emotional moments. Both books take a no-nonsense look at nature, which can be unkind; animals do die in these stories, and Jasmine grieves when they do, showing kids that it’s okay; it’s normal. The books illustrate the incredible amount of dedication, love, and work that go into caring for animals, and Jasmine’s plan to become a veterinarian/animal boarding service is sound and she and Tom show initiative in revisiting their plans and revising them as they go, also showing readers how to put their ideas and dreams into action. Once again, Ellie Snowdon’s artwork enhances the story with black and white illustrations. Sample a chapter at Candlewick’s webpage.

I’m enjoying what I’ve read of this series so far and look forward to seeing what other Jasmine Green adventures the future holds! Give these to your E.B. White fans, your Shelter Pet Squad readers, and fans of Hilary McKay’s Lulu series.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Peter and Ernesto’s next adventure: Sloths In the Night

Peter and Ernesto: Sloths In the Night, by Graham Annable, (April 2020, First Second), $17.99, ISBN: 9781250211309

Ages 7-10

Peter and Ernesto are on their third adventure! This time, their friend Bernard goes missing, possibly in search of a rumored dragon that lives in a nearby temple; it’s getting dark, though, and the jungle is no place for a sloth to be at night, especially on his own. The friends head out on their own adventure to find Bernard, and possibly, the dragon, and meet a host of hilarious animals along the way.

The Peter and Ernesto books are adorable stories about friendship, embracing differences, and working together. They never disappoint, and are perfect for chapter book readers and middle graders who love a good animal or friendship story. Peter and Ernesto are like Bert and Ernie; Frog and Toad; George and Martha. They’re friends who love one another, differences and all; they push one another outside their comfort zones (with hilarious, sweet results); they embrace all of their friends, together, and they are always thrilled to make new friends. Graham Annable’s cheerful artwork is immediately recognizable: kids will know, as soon as this book shows up on shelves, that this is a new Peter and Ernesto story.

If you haven’t had the fun of experiencing a Peter and Ernesto story yet, treat yourself.

Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

What’s the secret of The Hippo at the End of the Hall?

The Hippo at the End of the Hall, by Helen Cooper, (Oct. 2019, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536204483

Ages 8-12

Ben has lived alone with his mom ever since his father died when he was little. When an invitation to a mysterious, odd museum called The Gee Museum arrives addressed to him, it stirs up a vague memory of time spent with his father – and sets his mother on edge, although she won’t say why. Ben goes to the old museum and meets a group of talking animals, all waiting for him. They tell him that the museum is in danger, and he’s the only one who can save it – the proprietress is old and tired of keeping it going, and the people she’s considering selling it to – a greedy landlord who’s also trying to force Ben’s mom out of business and their home, and a rival museum’s director who plans to scavenge the most valuable pieces and junk the rest – don’t have the Gee’s best interests at heart. As Ben unravels the secrets of the Gee, and the mysterious hippo and his place among all the animals, he finds answers about his father and his family that will fill a missing piece he’s lived with for too long.

The Hippo at the End of the Hall is an steadily building tale that blends the fantastic with a story of family and of memory. Ben and his mom are likable characters that stick together, even when one’s annoyed at the other: kind of like real moms and kids, right? The animals have individual personalities that set them apart from one another and bring them right into the story, and the human characters have history that’s never completely given away, yet feel fully formed and built up – Helen Cooper leaves us to wonder and imagine the wonderful adventures that took place before we joined the group. The black-and-white illustrations throughout add a vintage feel to the atmosphere, bringing the Gee Museum to life under your fingertips. Magical museums and magical creatures, two terrible baddies, and a family putting itself back together make this a book to booktalk to your Jumanji fans, your Night at the Museum fans (schedule a showing of the movies!), and your magical realism fans.

Helen Cooper is a two-time Kate Greenway medalist. This is her first novel. You can find more about Ms. Cooper, including her bibliography, at her author website.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

The Great TBR Readdown Continues: Real Hamsters Don’t Bite

Real Hamsters Don’t Bite, by Alexis Cleoford, (May 2017, Amazon Digital Services), $7.99, ISBN: 978-1548365233

Ages 8-11

My TBR read-down continues with this short novella from author Alexis Cleoford, who generously emailed me a PDF of her book, Real Hamsters Don’t Bite. It’s the first book in an humorous animal series, Mighty & Brennon. Mighty and Brennon are two housecats who are not thrilled about being sent to a “pet hotel” while their humans are on vacation. When they arrive home, Mighty – the leader – decides it’s time to strike out on and find Cat Land, a sort of paradise for cats, where they’re treated as they should be (remember, people used to worship cats: they have never forgotten this). They also stumble onto a mystery: hamsters are attacking cats! But… real hamsters don’t bite, do they?

Real Hamsters Don’t Bite is a novella – only about 50 pages – and is available via ebook or paperback through Amazon. Narrated in the first person by Mighty, the bolder cat of the two, there’s some humor and a sense of adventure. Brennon is the more cautious of the two, giving readers a nice little dramatic – and fun – foil to play off of. Black and line drawings throughout add some interest. Give Real Hamsters Don’t Bite a shot if you have animal fiction fans.


Posted in Animal Fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Ready… Set… Go! The Big Race is on!

The Big Race, by David Barrow, (Sept. 2019, Kane Miller), $12.99, ISBN: 9781610678803

Ages 4-7

The Big Race is a very tough race in which only the fastest, biggest, and strongest animals participate. So when little Aardvark decides she’s going to sign up to compete, she gets laughed at. Her competitors – a lion, cheetah, buffalo, and crocodile – all laugh at her, and tell her she’ll never finish, but she will defy them all. She’s not competing to win; she’s competing to have fun. The story shows each of the bigger, stronger animals pushing themselves to get to the next level in this triathalon-type race, but Aardvark? She’s pushing herself, and giggling, laughing, and enjoying the journey. Aardvark may not be the biggest, strongest, or fastest, but she has enough heart to power her through the finish line.

Originally published in the UK in 2018, The Big Race is all about embracing the journey rather than the destination, listening to the inner voice that tells you “I can!”, and doing the thing that may be a little overwhelming. It’s about self-empowerment and self-reliance. The other animals jeer at Aardvark, but they’re the ones arguing over the grand prize while Aardvark stands, surrounded by her friends, and receives her medal for finishing. It’s a sweet story about challenging oneself, and testing one’s limits.

The mottled artwork is bright, and the contrast between tiny Aardvark and her hulking co-competitors makes for a big visual. Remind kids to be present, and to adjust expectations once in a while.


Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Humor, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Clyde is laugh-out-loud hilarious fun from Jim Benton

Clyde, by Jim Benton, (Apr. 2019, Yoe Books), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-68405-447-3

Ages 7-11

Jim Benton is big news in my libraries.  Kids are still devour his Franny K. Stein and My Dumb Diaries series, and every now and then, I’ll even catch a mom rocking an It’s Happy Bunny sweatshirt or tee. He’s consistently hilarious with a wink to the snarkiest of mindsets, making him aces in my book. So when I was invited to review his graphic novel, Clyde, about a bear who loves being bad, I bounced off the walls a bit.

My excitement was rewarded. Clyde is straight-up hilarious. Clyde is a bear who just wants to be a bad guy. He doesn’t have a nice word for anyone, and life in friendly Cubville isn’t cutting it for him. He wants to go somewhere bad: “bad as bologna… left out on the counter to spoil’, so he sets off for Grizzly City. He gets beaten up by a butterfly who, at it turns out, is trying to get away from the mean streets of Grizzly City, and encounters a grizzly who’s so intimidating, Clyde farts with every sentence the bear growls at him. Is Clyde deterred? No way! But a call from his brother, Tinkledirt, telling him his grandmother is in fish jail, sends Clyde back to make things right.

Is this a redemption tale? Heck no! It’s a tale that’s meant to enjoy and laugh at, because Jim Benton’s humor is fantastic: surreal, sarcastic, and carries just a bit of an uplifting message about helping out your friends and your family. The artwork is bright, with bold outlines, and keeps it simple; the writing is fast-paced and carries at least one belly laugh per page. Clyde is all of us in a bad mood; he just doesn’t apologize for it. The text is perfect for intermediate readers, with short sentences, and words that your emerging readers can easily pick up in the dialogue. (I just had to explain what a bikini was to my second grader, but other than that, he was good.)

I demanded my second grader put everything down to read this, and he loved it. Get this one for your graphic novel fans; they’ll demand more Clyde, too. Visit Jim Benton’s author website  for more about his books, including his Catwad graphic novels (which, it looks like I’m ordering for the kiddo).