If I made a wish list of the elements that combine to make a perfect series of early chapter books for new readers, here’s what I would include:
- books written by a respected children’s book author
- a series that would appeal to both boys and girls
- a diverse cast of likable characters
- preferably the series would center around animals
- easy to read chapter books for newly independent readers with lots of dialogue and illustrations to break up the text
After reading the first entry in Cynthia Lord’s Shelter Pet Squad, I knew it was time to start a new waiting list in the school library. This is a series that will make school librarians and parents of new chapter book readers very happy.
Jelly Bean, the guinea pig at the center of Lord’s first Pet Squad book, needs a new home. Luckily for him, there is a group of kids who volunteer at the local pet shelter who want to help – especially Suzannah, a second grade girl who loves animals, but lives in an apartment that does not allow pets. She wants a pet so much that she carries her stuffed-animal mouse in her pocket and leaves her stuffed dog in the window so he can “watch” her come home from school. Her mom comes up with a solution: a program at the local animal shelter where kids can help feed the animals and make toys and treats for them. After joining the Pet Squad, Suzannah makes lots of new friends – both human and animals.
Another feature that makes this book so perfect is that the engaging story is followed by information about guinea pigs and animal shelters, giving readers a chance to learn more. A series to be “thankful” for!
I’m also thankful for scenes like the ones below that I get to experience every day….