I had the pleasure of being on the round 2 panel for the Cybils Easy Readers and Short Chapter Books category, and while our winner, A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse, is a fantastic book, the other four finalists are no slouches. Here’s a quick review of each of those books.
Bink and Gollie, Two for One is the second in this series about the best friends, and this time they’re going to the circus. Each chapter is more like a self-contained story but all are loosely linked together. Bink tries to whack a duck but hits the game attendant instead, Gollie tries her luck on stage in the talent show, and the girls have their future told by the perceptive Madame Prunely. I love the illustrations, as the smallest details make a big impact to the story, and of course the sweet friendship between two girls who are polar opposites.
Penny and Her Doll is the first of two books by Kevin Henkes that made it to the finals. Penny gets a new doll and loves her immediately, but has the hardest time choosing a name for her. Kids will identify with Penny’s dilemma, and will be delighted by the solution that’s under Penny’s nose all along.
In Penny and Her Song, Penny just wants to sing her song to her family, but it’s never the right time. Penny waits patiently until her family is ready for her song, and then thrilled when they join in. The illustrations in both Penny books are sweet and perfect for the story.
Pinch and Dash Make Soup is the other finalist about best friends. Pinch is hungry for soup, but he’s too lazy to make it himself or walk over to the Chat and Chew, so he heads over to his pal Dash’s house. Dash is making his own soup, but doesn’t have the right ingredients, resulting in Pinch making the trip back and forth between houses. It’s clear from the illustrations that they live next door to each other, even though the text insinuates it’s a long walk. Kids will love a humorous incident involving pepper which ruins the soup but not their friendship.
These are all wonderful books, on different levels of the easy reader genre, and I recommend them to any new or seasoned reader.