These new books for readers ages 6 to 10 help bridge the gap between picture books to chapter books.
"Monkey and Elephant" by Carole Lexa Schaefer; illustrated by Galia Bernstein; Candlewick Press; 42 pages; $14.99.
A perfect mesh of colorful picture book and easy-to-read chapter book for the youngest of readers, Schaefer's Junior Library Guild selection tale showcases friendship and the value of working out differences. Turquoise Elephant and Purple Monkey are buddies, and they set out to search for shade on a very hot day. Both are energetic but at times grumpy because Monkey thinks Elephant walks too bumpity and ziggy and zaggy, while Elephant thinks Monkey is too bossy and sassy.
The pair persists in their search and even sings as they "bump galump along." Other jungle animals join in yelling, "Did you know there is a monkey on your head?" and "Did you know a monkey is a really good snack?" Comedy ensues, and satisfaction reigns when the friends finally rest in their new shade, full of compliments for each other.
"Oddfellow's Orphanage" by Emily Winfield Martin; Random House; 128 pages; $14.99.
"What do an onion-headed boy, a child-sized hedgehog and a tattooed girl have in common? They all live at Oddfellow's Orphanage!" begins the lead-in of this quirky tale. The lively story has a refreshing air of vintage appeal with humor in a circus-like setting. "Oddfellow's Orphanage" is indeed that -- a school full of lovable misfits unique and kind.
Martin's enticing writing style and pencil sketches on every page spread will appeal to budding readers aged 6 to 11 who enjoy fantastical fairytale-like stories. The popular Etsy.com artist captures the whimsy and freshness of a retro world of dancing bears, ragtime music and "mysterium of all sorts."
"Henry Higgins and the Shark" by Steve Voake; illustrated by Emma Dodson; Candlewick Press; 104 pages; $14.99.
Author Voake knows kid-speak and writes in a funny conversational tone that will have youngsters guffawing. In this hilarious, beginning chapter book, a boy named Hooey Higgins desperately wants a huge chocolate egg in a store window. He enlists his best friend Twig and older brother to lure a shark to shore with ketchup, a cricket bat and rope in the hopes they can charge people to view it.
What ensues is adventurous, crazy hilarity. Readers ages 5 to 10 will enjoy the down-home, outrageous feel of Hooey's English seaside setting.