The 2015 Nerdies: Early Reader and Chapter Book Winners Announced by Alyson Beecher
Whenever I need a laugh or just need a break from heavy duty reading, I turn to early readers or chapter books. Writers in this category know that they have to create a story that quickly draws in beginning readers and they do so with engaging characters, relatable situations, and humor or pets or sometimes both. Often authors who do well in this category show up on this list with multiple books or in sequential years. Returning favorites to the Nerdy Book Awards Early Readers and Chapter Books include Shannon Hale, Abby Hanlon, Cynthia Lord, Kate Messner, and Mo Willems. Many of our newcomers are not new to the area of early readers and chapter book. It is exciting to welcome Sara Pennypacker, Ellen Potter, Bob Shea, Emma J. Virjan, and Ursula Vernon to the Nerdy Book Awards.
Though our winners feature different characters and story lines, some themes are evident. Pets feature prominently in several books from a time-traveling rescue dog (Ranger in Time) to a ferret in need of a new home (Shelter Pet Squad) to a wandering cat and a timid dog (The Story of Diva and Flea). Animals not only feature as pets but in several stories, they take center stage as the main characters. Elephant and Piggie have been regular favorites on the Nerdy Book Award lists. This year, they are joined by some new animal friends including a ballet loving cat and a polka dot horse (Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret) and a pig in a wig (What This Story Needs is a Pig in the Wig).
Stories about girls with overactive imaginations like Dory, Clementine, or Piper add humor while being embedded in very realistic life experiences like starting school and making friends, and welcoming in a new baby to the family, and dealing with a brother who is away at school. Girls as princesses is another theme that easily finds an audience. However, Shannon Hale and Ursula Vernon have brilliantly created not-so-typical princess stories in Princess in Black, and the Hamster Princess. These aren’t your typical princesses. Princess Magnolia finds life a bit challenging as she entertains the other princesses at her birthday party while having to rush off to fight monsters with her trusty steed. Harriet the Hamster, in a variation on Sleeping Beauty, takes off on a two year adventure which ends in a twist.
Good storytelling appeals to a wide audience and the winners of this year’s Nerdy Book Awards for Early Readers and Chapter Books are no exception. For teachers, librarians, and parents looking for the just right read for beginning and transitions readers, there is something for everyone on this list. As for me, I will be gifting several of these to new teachers to help them build their classroom libraries.
Congratulations to the 2015 Nerdy Book Club Award Winners for Early Readers and Chapter Books:
I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems
Ballet Cat and the Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan
Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party #2 by Shannon Hale
Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter; Illustrated by Qin Leng
The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon
Shelter Pet Squad: Merlin by Cynthia Lord
Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker; Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Ranger in Time: Rescue on the Oregon Trail by Kate Messner
Alyson Beecher is a Literacy Specialist 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