Alongside yesterday’s easy book list, this is the other list that could have been a little beefier this year. Not a lot of racial diversity to be found, to be frank. That fault lies with me, not the books published in 2016. Still, with that in mind, this list is a collection of great books I read this year but should NOT be taken as the best of the year by any means.
2016 Early Chapter Books
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann
It’s difficult to know where to put this book, but if I had a gun to my head I’d probably slot it under “early chapter book” rather than “picture book”. Not that it isn’t chock full of gorgeous full color spreads from start to finish. It just has a slightly older feel to it, best suited for those kids willing to sit and listen and contemplate a little more deeply.
Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon by John Himmelman
Generally I like to avoid sequels, and this is the third in the Bunjitsu Bunny series. And honestly, I would avoid it, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s just so doggone impressive. With shocking short stories, Himmelman manages to pack a strong punch with a very few number of words. If that man ever gets into easy books, Geisel take note.
Fluffy Strikes Back by Ashley Spires
Clearly I like early chapter books where furry creatures kick things on the covers. This book is a little like a comic and a little like an easy reader. I’m usually wary of spy thrillers done with animals (movies of that sort do not pan out). This, however, is what they all wish that they could be. I may also be inclined towards it since my house is beset by bluebottle flies every summer and no love of mine is lost on them.
The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, ill. Matt Myers
It doesn’t have the elegance of Bunjitsu Bunny, but LaReau’s tale of two “bad” kids who can’t help but do good felt like it was striking the same notes. Maybe I should have put it on my Books with a Message list.
Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina
I just absolutely, 100% loved this book. I think it was the only early chapter book I went so far as to review this year. The struggle of a girl to learn English (a particularly weird and illogical tongue) will strike a chord with many readers struggling to learn another language.
Narwhal, Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
Narwhals are hot in 2016. The just keep cropping up! And why not? As this book makes so eminently clear, they are the unicorns of the sea. This upbeat, consistently amusing, warm-hearted little book is perfect for transitional readers that need that comic element to their tales.
The Sandwich Thief by Andre Marois, ill. Patrick Doyon
Oops. I lied. I reviewed two early chapter books this year. I have no idea why I adore this one as much as I do. The story of a boy’s incredibly hoity toity sandwich getting stolen every day shouldn’t make me so happy, but it does! It may even make you yearn for homemade mayonnaise. It’s just that convincing.
What’s Up, Chuck? by Leo Landry
This is one of those books that straddles the line between picture book and early chapter book so perfectly that it should almost be its own category. I decided to put it here, because it actually has a pretty gripping plot. I love what it has to say about personal petty rivalries and dealing with your own jealousy. What kid isn’t going to relate?
Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? by Kate DiCamillo, ill. Chris Van Dusen
This is the latest in DiCamillo’s Deckawoo Drive series that began with the Mercy Watson books. It’s unapologetically DiCamilloian. Can you name any other author that could get away with writing an early chapter book about an elderly woman setting off to find herself by riding the rails? It’s engrossing. No animals in it, unlike the other books in the series, so it’s a risk but there are jellybeans so I’m giving it two thumbs up.
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Adaptations
December 3 – Nursery Rhymes
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – Calde-Nots
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – International Imports
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Older Picture Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Graphic Novels
December 21 – Poetry
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Novel Reprints
December 30 – Novels
December 31 – Picture Books