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31 Days, 31 Lists: Day 19 – 2016 Early Chapter Books

31daysAlongside 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


About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.