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Series and Sequels

 | May 01, 2017

Series are perennial favorites with readers of all ages. This column features first books in new series as well as stand-alone sequels. We have included some early chapter books for younger readers and more complex plots in a variety of genres for older readers.

Ages 4–8

Agnes and ClarabelleAgnes and Clarabelle (Agnes and Clarabelle #1). Adele Griffin & Courtney Sheinmel. Ill. Sara Palacios. 2017. Bloomsbury.
Agnes Pig and Clarabelle Chicken are best friends. In four short episodic chapters, organized around the seasons of the year, Agnes and Clarabelle enjoy doing things together and help each other face fears and accept challenges. Appropriate text features (such as breath-sized lines of text and controlled-yet-interesting vocabulary) and lively illustrations, rendered in colored pencil and watercolor washes and digitally enhanced, support newly independent readers. After meeting these bosom buddies in these engaging stories, young children will be primed for reading Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate! (2017), published simultaneously, in which the friends celebrate four holidays together.

Charlie and MouseCharlie & Mouse (Charlie & Mouse #1). Laurel Snyder. Ill. Emily Hughes. 2017. Chronicle.
Readers meet young siblings, Charlie and Mouse, over four short chapters in this new easy reader series. In “Lumps,” Charlie wakes up and, eager to start the day’s activities, pokes at the lump beside him in bed to wake up his younger brother. Together they make their way down the hall to awaken two more lumps, their mom and dad. In “Party,” the celebration they plan ends up being “the best party ever” for the children of the neighborhood. In “Rocks,” their money-making project, selling rocks, is a success but in an unexpected way. In “Bedtime Banana,” the boys postpone bedtime by asking for a story, a song, and bananas before finally going to sleep planning to ask for an even tastier bedtime snack the next night. Colorful illustrations complement the text, showing the brothers sharing their mini-adventures throughout the day.

Fizz and the Police Dog TryoutsFizz and the Police Dog Tryouts (Fizz Police Dog Adventures #1). Lesley Gibbes. Ill. Stephan Michael King. 2017. Kane Miller.
Fizz is “a small cute ball of white, fizzy, fuzzy fur,” as well as a brave, clever, superfast Bolognese who wants to be a police dog, not a champion show dog. At the Police Dog Tryouts, Fizz passes the Bark Test and the Scare Test, but it is Amadeus the Awesome, “the biggest, nastiest dog Fizz had ever met,” who brings the burglar down in the Chase-and-Catch Test. Fizz's dreams of being Sunnyvale’s next City Police Dog are over, but with his lovable look, he is perfect for the Undercover Dog Division. After reading Fizz and the Police Dog Tryouts, newly independent readers will be eager to read the three other simultaneously-published Fizz Police Dog adventures.

Sam the Man Sam the Man & the Rutabaga Plan (Sam the Man #2). Frances O’Roark Dowell. Ill. Amy June Bates. 2017. Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.
Second-grader “Sam the Man,” who doesn’t like vegetables, is given a rutabaga for a class science project. He soon grows fond of “Rudy,” draws a smiley face on the odd-looking vegetable, and carries it around in his backpack in a box of worm dirt. Sam bargains with his neighbor, Mrs. Kerner, for permission to make a compost pile at her house, and he invites his classmates to contribute their mushy vegetables to it at the end of the project. When Sam finally pulls Rudy out of his backpack to add to the compost, however, he discovers that the rugged rutabaga is not rotting—and has a surprise for all of them. Pencil sketches throughout the book add to the fun. Readers who missed Sam’s first adventure will enjoy reading Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan (2016).

Ages 9–11

Audacity Jones Steals the ShowAudacity Jones Steals the Show (Audacity Jones #2). Kirby Larson. 2017. Scholastic.
It is the early 1900s, and eleven-year-old orphan Audacity "Audie" Jones from Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls is again sleuthing, this time with Pinkerton Detective Cypher in New York City at the Hippodrome Theater. Audie, her friend Bimmy, Detective Cypher, and Theodora (the scientist who created Houdini’s upcoming best illusion ever, vanishing an elephant in front of a live audience) go undercover as a juggling act, The Pomegrantos. With the help of Audie’s clever cat, Min, they foil a rapscallion’s scheme to ruin Houdini. An author’s note discusses historical authenticities and liberties in writing this historical thriller. Readers who missed the first book, Audacity Jones to the Rescue (2016), will want to read it while waiting for the next book in the series. 

Dragon CaptivesDragon Captives (The Unwanteds Quest #1). Lisa McMann. 2017. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.
This spin-off from the Unwanteds series begins ten years later with twelve-year-old twins Fifer and Thisbe Stowe (along with their friend Seth) defying their older brother, Alex, head mage of Artimé, to answer the plea of ice blue dragon Hux for help to free his siblings. Enslaved by the Revinir, an evil ruler, the dragons are rapidly outgrowing their wings, soon to no longer able to fly. Useless to their captor, they will be killed. The twins, with their uncontrollable, untrained magical abilities, must somehow reach the dragons, create larger dragon wings for them, and rescue them from captivity. Just when their dangerous quest turns out to have possibly fatal consequences, what happens sets readers up for the next book in the series.

Ages 12–14

Carmer and GritCarmer and Grit (The Wingsnatchers #1). Sarah Jean Horwitz. 2017. Algonquin.
A chance meeting between thirteen-year-old orphaned Felix Cassius Tiberious Carmer III, a magician’s apprentice to Antoine the Amazifier, and Grettifrida Lonewing, a teeny one-winged faerie princess, leads to an odd alliance. Grit agrees to use her real magic to help Carmer improve his mechanical inventions used in the Amazifier’s illusions. The act desperately needs improvement if the magician is to win first prize at the Seminal Symposium of Magickal Arts in the city of Skemantis. In exchange, Carmer will help Grit uncover the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Seelie faeries from the faerie kingdom in Skemantis’ public park, Oldtown Arboretum. Carmer and Grit face off against a magician/mad scientist who has created automatons (including Wingsnatchers and Autocats) that terrify fairies and people on the streets of Skemantis and a Hyperiopower machine that uses fae magic to generate electric energy. The worlds of faeries, magicians, and steampunk technology come together in this fast-paced, action-packed fantasy.

Last Day on MarsLast Day on Mars (Chronicles of the Dark Star #1). Kevin Emerson. 2017. Walden Pond/HarperCollins.
It is the year 2213. The sun is expanding “into a red giant, swallowing Earth and the inner planets of the solar system, before dying down to a white dwarf” billions of years before expected. Now almost all the humans who abandoned Earth and colonized Mars are on giant space ships headed toward remote planet Aaru-5. The last ship to leave Mars before it becomes uninhabitable is scheduled to leave in twenty-four hours. Thirteen-year-olds Liam and Phoebe are in this last group because their parents are finishing a project that will be needed for the successful colonization of Aaru-5. The teens find themselves making life-and-death decisions (including discovering and outsmarting aliens and surviving explosions and avalanches) with a fearless abandon that will leave science fiction fans impatiently waiting for the continuation of the Chronicles of the Dark Star.

Ages 15+

Agent of ChaosAgent of Chaos (The X Files Origins #1). Kami Garcia. 2017. Imprint/Macmillan.
In this thriller set in 1979, readers learn how seventeen-year-old Fox Mulder became interested in investigation of the paranormal. His mother, still distraught over the unsolved disappearance of his younger sister five years earlier, sends him to spend his senior year with his emotionally-detached father in Washington, D.C. There he meets Gimble, a Dungeons & Dragons player, whose father is a retired military conspiracy theorist. After Mulder’s friend Phoebe comes to visit, the three teens work together on solving the mystery of another young missing girl and find themselves on the trail of a serial killer. Mulder’s newly-honed profiling skills bring him to the attention of the FBI, which pegs him as a prospective agent. X-File fans will also want to read Jonathan Maberry’s The Devil’s Advocate (2017), which introduces fifteen-year-old Dana Scully, to find out how she also became a FBI recruit.

Revenge of the Evil LibrarianRevenge of the Evil Librarian (Evil Librarian #2). Michelle Knudsen. 2017. Candlewick.
Seventeen-year-old Cynthia and her boyfriend, Ryan, who fought alongside her to save their school from the demon librarian, Mr. Gabriel, in The Evil Librarian (2016), are spending the summer at musical theater camp. Cyn has not told Ryan about the agreement she made with the demoness who helped them escape from hell. Diabolic action ramps up as she discovers that Mr. Gabriel may not be dead after all and might be looking for revenge. Cyn’s realistic, slightly snarky, narration and non-stop action will carry readers through a roller-coaster storyline full of humor and horror. And then there is that agreement between Cyn and the demoness to pull readers into the next book.

Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English at Azusa Pacific University, in Azusa, California. Carolyn Angus is former Director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University, in Claremont, California.

These reviews are submitted by members of the International Literacy Association's Children's Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (CL/R SIG) and are published weekly on Literacy Daily.

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