Sunday, May 21, 2017

Easy Readers

Butler, Dori Hillestad. King and Kayla and the Missing Dog Treats (#1)
Peachtree Publishers (March 1, 2017)
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

King loves his human girl, Kayla, especially when she makes him peanut butter dog treats, his FAVORITE food! He sits patiently and asks to lick the bowl nicely, but Kayla informs him that raw dough is not good for dogs. The two meet Jillian, Kayla's good friend, and hew brand new puppy, Thor. Thor is full of energy, but King patiently lets the puppy chew on his ears. When it is time for sampling the delicious treats, some are missing, and King gets blamed. Kayla points out that King's breath does not smell like peanut butter. Other possible culprits are investigated, and eventually Jillian and Kayla figure out who took the baked goods.

This is told from King's perspective, and young readers will be amused that King is trying so hard to communicate with Kayla, but she just always thinks his barking means he needs to go outside! King tries very hard to help Kayla with her investigation, since he knows the true culprit long before she does, and there is a gentle humor in this.

The illustrations are simple, bright, and charming. There's plenty of white space on the page for readers who are just starting to navigate text on their own. The reading level is similar to the I Can Read book series, and the story is broken down into three chapters.

It's great to see books with diverse characters, and King is a very appealing dog, with his love of all things food and his devotion to Kayla. His enthusiasm is spot on-- I'm pretty sure if my dog should talk, she would sound just like King.

This is a great choice for emerging readers who like McDonald's Judy Moody and Friends books, Clarke's Dr. KittyCat, and Birney's Humphrey the Hamster.

Butler, Dori Hillestad. King and Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code (#2)
Peachtree Publishers (March 1, 2017)
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Kayla and her friend Mason both get mysterious letters dropped off on their porches. King can figure out right away that the letter smells like oatmeal and like Kayla's friend Jillian, but when he tries to communicate this, Kayla just thinks he needs to go out. When she and Mason start to investigate the clues, they are able to decode the letters and figure out what King knew all along.

This is a great introduction to one of my favorite word puzzles, the Cryptoquip! It's introduced in a way that's easy enough for younger readers to understand, and will no doubt inspire some coded messages, and maybe even a secret spy party.

King's exuberance once again steals the show, and his shame at being called a "bad dog" is sad. Whether he's trying to behave himself or enthusing about his FAVORITE THING, his eyes tell the story very appealingly. Readers will find a lot of humor in King's antics while they enjoy helping Kayla solve the mystery.

Hand this series to readers who have devoured Elliot's Owl Diaries, Haas' Bramble and Maggie series, and Potter's Piper Green books, or older titles like Adler's Cam Jansen or Sharmat's Nate the Great mysteries.
  Ms. Yingling

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