These new readers for young children are fresh and fun and more involved than simple "Dick and Jane" tales.
"King & Kayla and the Case of the Lost Tooth" by Dori Hillestad Butler; illustrated by Nancy Meyers; Peachtree Publishers; 47 pages; $14.95.
In Dori Hillestad Butler's beginning chapter book series, readers are introduced to analytical thinking and gathering facts in a zesty storyline about a girl and her dog who solve mysteries. In this third book in the series, young heroine of color Kayla loses her tooth, and when her dog, King, looks in her mouth, he only smells turkey sandwiches. Butler's point of view from the dog makes the tales very funny and active, and his interactions with the Cat with No Name are adorable.
Eventually, Kayla's tooth disappears, and the loving pair has to solve the mystery. (Of course, this involves more humans who smell like turkey sandwiches). Aimed at kids just starting chapter books, Butler's funny series is smart and captivating.
"Pete the Cat and the Cool Caterpillar" by James Dean; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $16.99.
In HarperCollins' iconic "I Can Read!" series, James Deans' latest Pete the Cat ditty is a keeper. With easy writing and the same low-key, sarcastic wit of Dean's Pete the Cat picture books, this story tells of Pete finding a green caterpillar when he and his friends go bug hunting. Pete's dad makes a jar home for the caterpillar with twigs and leaves, and his whole family waits and waits for it to turn into a butterfly and release it. Readers will find Dean's fun way of writing easy and flowing, and they'll get a cool lesson in metamorphosis and the importance of taking good care of living things.
Other great new level-one books starring famous characters include "Louise Loves Bake Sales" by Kelly Light, a story about bespectacled Louise and her cupcake-making adventure that turns mess into art. "Pinkalicious at the Fair" by Victoria Kann sends the little girl and her best friend to a fair, where they eat pink cotton candy and pet piglets but, most of all, miss their unicorn friends. The "Paddington Collector's Quintet" from HarperCollins is a five-book box set from Michael Bond in which the adventurous Paddington Bear sets sail, performs magic tricks, plays the marching drum, has a day off and paints a prize picture.
"Martin Luther King Jr.: A Peaceful Leader" by Sarah Albee; pictures by Chin Ko; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $16.99.
Perfect for Black History Month, this level two "I Can Read!" book introduces Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s milestones to youngsters, complete with illustrations at first and then real historical photographs and a timeline. It's a great idea for very young children to learn about such an incredible leader, and this wonderful reader is geared toward kids who read on their own but still need a little help.
Another worthy level-two book includes "Batgirl on the Case!," a book about Batgirl Barbara Gordon, who loses a present for her father and encounters lots of danger and criminals as she fights for justice before locating her gift. Girl power all the way! "My Weird School: Teamwork Trouble" by Dan Gutman is a sports-filled tale about "weird" sports like curling and the importance of getting along in athletics.
"The Berenstain Bears and the Ducklings" by Mike Berenstain is a sweet level-one tale about the iconic family of bears and the nest of ducks they discover that turns into a slew of hatching ducklings!
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.