2012 Picks of the Year — Early Grade Chapter Books

9780763655495

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
By Davies, Nicola
Candlewick Press 
9780763655495 $19.99

Davies’ observations of nature are transformed into poems by Hearld’s glorious illustrations. This book will encourage any child with an ounce of curiosity and creativity to create their own nature journal.

9780375868467

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story
By Spinner, Stephanie
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
9780375868467 $17.99

This book is a retelling, for children, of the book Irene Pepperberg wrote (Alex & Me : How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence —  and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process) about her language research with the African grey parrot Alex. At a time when bird intelligence was considered extremely limited, Alex proved to Pepperberg and the scientific world that he possessed vastly more smarts than anyone had guessed, and a boatload of personality as well.

9780547681009

Malcolm at Midnight
By Beck, W. H.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
9780547681009 $16.99

Malcolm is such a small rat he’s mistaken for a mouse when he becomes the class pet in Mr. Binney’s fifth grade. Soon Malcolm joins the Midnight Academy. The Academy is a secret society of the pets from all the classes, and they’re a varied lot. In fact, some of them may be traitors, allied with the unknown threat that lives in the clock tower. Malcolm has to manage tricky relationships with both the humans and the other animals. The writing is charmingly believable, and the many illustrations add another lively dimension.

9780061992254

The One and Only Ivan
By Applegate, Katherine
Harper
9780061992254 $16.99

A quick read based on a true story. A massive silverback ape, Ivan, lived for years in a cage in a faltering roadside attraction. When a baby elephant is added to the menagerie, he realizes she will be condemned to this humiliating drudgery unless he can come up with a way to free them both. Much of the book’s strength lies in the way it recognizes the power of language.

Bestselling author Applegate presents an unforgettable and uplifting tween animal fantasy that explores the power of friendship, art, and hope with humor and touching poignancy. Illustrations.

9781442435797

Lulu Walks the Dogs
By Viorst, Judith
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
9781442435797 $15.99

Lulu needs money, never mind for what, and decides her best gambit is a dog walking enterprise. She certainly does NOT want any interference from Fleischman, the goody two-shoes boy down the block. Lulu is terrible with the dogs, Fleischman keeps trying to be helpful. Chapter by chapter, compromise by compromise, they negotiate their way to a true partnership.

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