Mercy Watson Fights Crime by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Ah, Mercy Watson, a pig who adores buttered toast, lives in a 50’s styled world, and has adventures that will have everyone laughing along. Her first two books were fabulous, and the third in the series continues with the same feel. Mercy Watson hears something downstairs after she goes to bed. It sounds like the toaster, so she is sure that someone is downstairs making toast without her! Down she heads and discovers a robber in the kitchen. The robber would have been just fine if he hadn’t had a buttery candy in his mouth.
These books are perfect for new readers who want books with real chapters and plenty of words but also colored pictures and plenty of action. They are also great read alouds for preschoolers through first graders. The question is whether you can wait for kids to grow up enough to read the books themselves, or whether you are like me and simply must share them as bedtime stories before then!
Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller.
This is a book I discovered not from reviews in print journals, but from my fellow kidslit bloggers who simply raved about it. And that is exactly what I am going to do too. It is the story of Ananka Fishbein, who looks out her window one day to discover a giant sinkhole in the park across the street. She decides to explore it and by doing so, changes her life. Inside the sinkhole she finds a fully decorated room and a book that leads her to understand the dirtier and darker side of New York City, including the Shadow City, a warren of connected rooms deep beneath the ground. After her adventure, she meets the strange Kiki Strike, a tiny girl who is dangerous and mysterious. Ananka then finds herself on an adventure with the Irregulars, a group of preteen girls who all have different talents that will enable them to explore the Shadow City. Author Miller has created a riveting book filled with twists and turns, betrayals and lifelong friendships, populated with preteen girls who have real adventures. It is an amazing triumph to create female preteen characters who care about both style and explosives. This is a girl book that rocks, that captures exactly what girls really want: to be dangerous and to have adventures, but not be boyish in the least. The writing is witty, vivacious and pure fun just like the characters. Miller has also added guides throughout the book on subjects like detecting a liar, snakebites, and following someone without being found out.
Run and get this for any brave preteen girl who has spunk and a thirst for adventure. It is books like this that make me sigh about the lack of real modern adventure books for girls. Tamora Pierce is my hero for featuring girls in her stories that are just as tough and strong as the boys, but we have needed a modern story that features great female characters as well. Kiki Strike fills that void, and does it with great style.