This year, I’ve had a number of teachers ask me to help particular students find “just right books” to read in our early chapter books section of the library. These are typically students in grade 2 who struggle with reading, but who want to read chapter books because so many of their peers are reading them. Finding a chapter book that is not too challenging, but that appeals to a kid who doesn’t want to feel babyish, is no easy feat. I have made it a mission to beef up this part of the collection, because I want the kids to find books that are just right in terms of reading level and themes, so that they don’t gravitate towards books that are way beyond them but that look cool, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.
One go-to series for emerging readers is Princess Posey. In each of these little chapter books, Posey faces a small challenge, usually centered around having to be more independent, and with some encouragement and guidance and her own indomitable spirit, she always rises to the challenge and grows a little. In Princess Posey and the Monster Stew, Posey feels shy about the fact that even though she’s in grade one now, she’s still a little scared about Halloween. She wishes she could use her flashlight, like she did in kindergarten, and when she thinks about the “Monster Stew” they will be making in her class, she gets shivery. She knows she shouldn’t be frightened, but she can’t quite convince herself to be brave.
Stephanie Greene succeeds brilliantly at portraying the perspective and emotions of a typical first grader. The language is carefully chosen to be accessible to readers who are just getting comfortable with longer sentences and longer stories, but there’s plenty of personality coming through, particularly in the dialogue. The layout is friendly, without too much text on each page, and Stephanie Roth Sisson’s sweet and expressive illustrations bring Posey and her little adventures to life perfectly. Princess Posey and the Monster Stew is a just right treat for Halloween, and all the rest in the series will likely charm even the most reluctant reader. Lucky for us, there are more on the way!
Princess Posey and the Monster Stew is published by G.P. Putnam’s.