The 2013 Early Readers and Chapter Book Winners Announced by Alyson Beecher

Friendship, life lessons, and lots of laughter and humor characterize this year’s Nerdy Early Readers and Chapter Book Winners.  If you also happen to keep track of previous winners, this year two series hold onto their spots from last year.  One of the authors has been a Nerdy winner three years in a row. And, two authors dominate by each taking two of the five spots.


A Big Guy Took My Ball (Elephant and Piggie #19) by Mo Willems (Disney-Hyperion, May 21, 2013)

Mo Willems returns to the Nerdy Winner list for a third year in a row.  The popular Elephant and Piggie series about two wonderful friends has shown up twice on the list since 2011.  In A Big Guy Took My Ball, Piggie has her ball taken away by someone much bigger.  Of course, Gerald is quick to be of assistance. When the new someone turns out to be much, much larger than even Gerald, how will these two friends solve this dilemma?  With characteristic humor and dialogue, our favorite best friends learn that sometimes size and actions can be deceptive.    

I’m a Frog (Elephant and Piggie #20) by Mo Willems (Disney-Hyperion, October 15, 2013)

With simple, catchy dialogue, and two special friends, readers have come to love Elephant and Piggie.  Gerald (Elephant) is rather serious and reserved.  Piggie on the other hand is full of smiles and humor.  In I’m a Frog, Piggie pretends to be a frog.  Gerald is confused resulting in Piggie’s attempts to explain what the word pretend means.  The twist at the end reveals a bit of Gerald’s own sense of humor.  I loved this one and found myself chuckling through the story and wanting to desperately read it aloud to anyone who would listen.

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, February 19, 2013)

Henkes finds himself with two books on this year’s Nerdy list.  I was thrilled that two of my favorite books are featured.  Penny is one of Kevin Henkes’ newest characters and she is fast becoming a favorite of mine, and apparently, a hit with the Nerdy Book Club readers, as well.  In this third Early Reader featuring Penny, readers follow Penny as she discovers a special marble on her neighbor’s lawn. Through Penny’s thoughts and actions, Henkes helps readers understand the emotions that Penny experiences as she tries to understand who is the rightful owner of this marble and what should be done.     

The Year of Billy Miller (Greenwillow, September 17, 2013)

In this chapter book, The Year of Billy Miller, Henkes introduces us to an energetic second grader who struggles with homework and paying attention.  Readers get insights into Billy’s life, through his relationship with his teacher, father, sister, and mother.  Billy worries about what his teacher or mother will think.  He finds himself distracted by water fights and volcanoes when he should be working on poetry. Readers will also identify with Billy’s younger sister Sal, and even his father.  And where most books feature mom, this book prominently features Dad.  Henkes use of language and storytelling is superb which makes this not only a great book for students looking for a longer chapter book, but it is also an ideal read aloud.

Bink and Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee; Illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick Press, April 23, 2013)

In the second series to find itself on the Nerdy list for more than one year, Nerdy Book Clubbers salute the odd couple friendship of Bink and Gollie.  

“Good news, Bink,” said Gollie. “I have made an extraordinary discovery.”

“I’ll be right over,” said Bink.

“Good news almost always means pancakes,” said Bink.

Good news may not have resulted in pancakes this time, but our friends learn something about royalty, height, and aspiring to set a world record.  Throughout the three vignettes, our heroines continue to learn the importance of accepting themselves as they celebrate their friendship. Tony Fucile’s illustrations continue to bring alive the text of DiCamillo and McGhee.

If you have missed any of these wonderful books, check out your local independent bookstore or public library to give them a read.

Alyson Beecher is the Literacy and Curriculum with the Pasadena Unified School District in California.  She has a serious book addiction and celebrates books as part of the Nerdy Book Club.   You can find her on Twitter as @alybee930 and on her blog: Kid Lit Frenzy