The Kids Are All Right

Favorite Chapter Books of 2017

Hi Kid Lit friends,

I have a real love for chapter books. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, these are the transition books for when children begin to read more independently and develop the reading skills to read more complex and longer books (generally geared for kids ages five to nine). As their name implies, chapter books are broken into chapters. Compared to conventional middle grade books, the words in chapter books are generally printed larger and with more space in between the lines. Chapter books also contain illustrations. These are bridge books before kids move on to reading middle grade books.

SUPERFAIL by Max Brunner, illustrated by Dustin Mackay

Laser vision isn’t so hot when you’re cross-eyed. Just ask Marshall Preston, a twelve-year-old with superhuman abilities that are restricted by some very human setbacks. While other kids are recruited to superhero teams, Marshall’s stuck with a team of young Defectives: super speedy but can’t turn corners, radioactive Hulk allergies, and supersonic flight hindered by motion sickness. They aren’t exactly superhero material, but when Marshall uncovers a plot to destroy one of the greatest superhero teams of all time, he and his less-than-super friends set out to prove that just because you’re defective doesn’t mean you can’t save the day.

I adore chapter books because I see kids get so excited about reading more independently. There are so many new, wonderful chapter books out this year, so I thought I would gather up my favorites. (All descriptions from the publishers.)

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic
Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker! She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophiesomething special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before. But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?
More books in the series:
Jasmine Toguchi, Super Sleuth
Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl (April 3, 2018, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper (July 3, 2018, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers
Louie and Ralphie Ratso’s dad, Big Lou, always says that there are two kinds of people: those who are tough and those who are soft. Louie and Ralphie are tough, tough, tough, just like Big Lou, and they’re going to prove it. But every time they try to show just how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up accidentally doing good deeds instead. What’ll Big Lou do when he finds out they’ve been acting like softies all over the Big City? Perfect for emerging and reluctant readers, this clever and surprisingly warmhearted chapter book shows that being tough all the time can be really tough.
More books in the series:
The Infamous Ratsos Are Not Afraid

Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
The Levines are finally getting a pet–a furry one that is. They are excited about adopting a kitty they name Jelly, but they don’t get very far in the process when Ben starts sneezing. Oh no, he’s allergic! Lola is devastated and sets out to find Jelly a good home. Luckily, Lola is rewarded with a very happy (and still furry) ending!
More books in the series:
Lola Levine is Not Mean!
Lola Levine, Drama Queen
Lola Levine and the Ballet Scheme
Lola Levine and the Vacation Dream
Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream

Jada Jones: Rock Star by Kelly Starling Lyons
When Jada Jones’s best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She’d much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada’s teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she’s in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn’t seem to like any of Jada’s ideas. She doesn’t seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?
Other books in the series:
Jada Jones: Class Act

The Magnificent Mya Tibbs: Spirit Week Showdown by Crystal Allen, illustrated by Eda Kaban
Nine-year-old cowgirl Mya Tibbs is boot-scootin’ excited for the best week of the whole school year—SPIRIT WEEK! She and her megapopular best friend Naomi Jackson even made a pinky promise to be Spirit Week partners so they can win the big prize: special VIP tickets to the Fall Festival. But when the partner-picking goes horribly wrong, Mya gets paired with Mean Connie Tate—the biggest bully in school. And she can’t get out of it. Good gravy!

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Priscilla “Cilla” Lee-Jenkins is on a tight deadline. Her baby sister is about to be born, and Cilla needs to become a bestselling author before her family forgets all about her. So she writes about what she knows best―herself! Stories from her bestselling memoir, Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire,include:
– How she dealt with being bald until she was five
– How she overcame her struggles with reading
– How family traditions with her Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins and her Chinese grandparents, Nai Nai and Ye Ye, are so different
Other books in the series:
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is a Classic! (March 27, 2018, Roaring Brook Press)

Who Gives a Hoot? Calupurnia Tate, Girl Vet by Jacqueline Kelly
Out in their boat exploring the San Marcos River, Callie and Granddaddy see all kinds of nature―fish, mockingbirds, ammonites, and more. But when Callie spots an owl in the water, she knows it’s in trouble. With quick thinking and quick action, she and Granddaddy bring the bird aboard―but will they be able to save its life?
More books in the series:
Skunked! Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet
Counting Sheep: Calupurnia Tate, Girl Vet
A Prickly Problem: Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet (April 10, 2018, Henry Holt and Co.)

Cody and the Rules of Life by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
In Cody’s life, many things are hard to predict. Like why her older brother, Wyatt, is obsessed with his new bicycle called the Cobra, or why her best friend Pearl suddenly wants to trade favorite toys. Pearl says she will trust Cody with Arctic Fox because Cody is a trusty person. But Cody doesn’t want to give up her beloved Gremlin, and she regrets it as soon as she hands him over. When the Cobra goes missing, Cody has to decide for herself who is trusty and who is not. If only she had Gremlin to talk to! Surely Pearl wouldn’t mind if she secretly traded back . . . it’s not stealing if it belonged to you in the first place, right?
Other books in the series:
Cody and the Fountain of Happiness
Cody and the Mysteries of the Universe

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
Other book in the series:
Bat and the Waiting Game (March 27, 2018, Walden Pond Press)

Dory Fantasmagory: Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon
Ever since Dory met Rosabelle, a real true friend whose imagination and high spirits match her own, school has been pretty good. But now the class is learning to read, and it’s proving to be a challenge for Dory. While Rosabelle can read chapter books in her head, Dory is stuck with baby books about a happy little farm. Dory wishes for a potion to turn her into a reader but things don’t go as planned. Suddenly, a naughty little girl who looks an awful lot like Dory’s imaginary nemesis, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, shows up. And a black sheep leaves the pages of the farm book to follow Dory to school. It really needs her help–this seems like a job for a superhero! And it would help if she knew how to read.
Other books in the series:
Dory Fantasmagory
Dory Fantasmagory: The Real True Friend
Dory Fantasmagory: Head in the Clouds

Freddie Ramos Rules New York by Jacqueline Jules
Freddie and his mom are visiting Uncle Jorge in New York City! Just before they leave, Mr. Vaslov gives Freddie a new pair of zapatos to replace the ones that were getting too small. But Freddie worries if his new zapatos will work as well as his old ones. Will Freddie be able to save the day when Uncle Jorge misplaces an engagement ring in the middle of a New York City traffic jam?


New Releases! These all come out this Tuesday!

The Boy and the Whale by Mordicai Gerstein
A boy and his father discover a whale tangled in their only fishing net. Is the whale dead? While the man worries about losing their net, the boy worries about the whale. He remembers the fear he felt when, caught in a net himself in childhood, he almost drowned before being rescued by his father. When the whale blinks an enormous eye, the boy knows that he has to try to save the creature, no matter how dangerous doing so may be.

Dream Big Dreams by Pete Souza
Pete Souza served as Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama’s full two terms. He was with the President during more crucial moments than anyone else – and he photographed them all, capturing scenes both classified and candid. Throughout his historic presidency, Obama engaged with young people as often as he could, encouraging them to be their best and do their best and to always “dream big dreams.” In this timeless and timbnely keepsake volume that features over seventy-five full-color photographs, Souza shows the qualities of President Obama that make him both a great leader and an extraordinary man. With behind-the-scenes anecdotes of some iconic photos alongside photos with his family, colleagues, and other world leaders, Souza tells the story of a president who made history and still made time to engage with even the youngest citizens of the country he served.

Brotherband: the Caldera by John Flanagan
In Hallasholm, Stig is contesting the annual Maktig competition to decide Skandia’s greatest warrior. But a late-night knock on the door brings someone Stig never expected to see again, along with a request the Herons are hard-pressed to refuse: a rescue mission of epic proportions. Across the ocean, the southern city-state of Byzantos is plagued by a crew of pirates who’ve kidnapped the son of Empress Justina. Slipping out of Hallasholm under the cover of darkness, the brotherband sets sail to recover the boy from his kidnappers, heading south to the island of Santorillos where a near-impenetrable fortress stands atop a cliff, surrounded by a lagoon—a caldera—formed by the crater of a volcano.


So many awesome books are showing up at my doorstep! I’m very excited for Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 12/5/17) to come out in a couple of weeks. The debut title in Rick Riordan’s new imprint with Disney is Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (Rick Riordan Presents, 3/27/18). I can already tell readers are going to love this Hindu-inspired fantasy story. And finally, Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake is a sweet and funny kid who gets stuck in his shirt. We’ve all been there!

Did you see the winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature? The one middle grade book finalist, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia, didn’t win, but the Young Adult book (written for teenagers and older) Far From the Tree by Robin Benway did.

Have you entered to win the $500 independent bookstore gift certificate giveaway yet? Enter to win using this link (contest open until November 26th)!

That is it for me this week! I’d love to know what you are reading this week! Find me on Twitter at @KarinaYanGlaser, on Instagram at @KarinaIsReadingAndWriting, or email me at

Until next week,

Izzy wishes you a lovely week of reading!

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