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To Be Continued... Series and Sequels

By Carolyn Angus
 | Mar 07, 2016

Series are popular with readers, and readers have so many from which to choose. There are episodic series with interesting main characters that can be read in any order (although most readers insist on reading them in order). And there are lengthy, complex series. In some cases, the most recent book in a series can be a stand-alone read that leads readers to earlier books in the series. In other cases, reading the books in a series in order is best. Readers will find some favorite series coming to an end in 2016, but take heart: Other series in the same genres are just beginning.
Ages 4–8

Mouse Scouts Make a Difference (Mouse Scouts #2). Sarah Dillard. 2016. Alfred A. Knopf/Random House.

mouse_scoutsSix mouse friends, Violet, Tigerlily, Junebug, Cricket, Hyacinth, and Petunia, who earned their first badge as Acorn Scouts in Mouse Scouts (2015), are now eager to earn their Make a Difference badge. They must decide on a project that will make a difference in their community to work on together. Coming to an agreement is difficult, but they decide on cleaning up the park. Picking up trash leads to a daring and dangerous rescue mission that has the scouts using all the special skills learned from following the Mouse Scout Handbook—and the gathered trash. Inserts with scout rules and step-by-step directions for projects from the handbook and pencil drawings of the cute mouse scouts in action add humor, making this an appealing early chapter book.

Pugs of the Frozen North (Not-So-Impossible Tales #3). Philip Reeve. Ill. Sarah McIntyre. 2016. Random House.

pugs_frozen_northA funny, imaginative text and cartoonlike illustrations featuring 66 adorable, bug-eyed pug puppies tell the story of the incredible adventure of Shen and Sika as they enter a once-in-a-lifetime dog sled race to the North Pole on Sika’s grandfather’s old sled pulled by the pug pups. The coveted first prize for the Great Northern Race is the granting of a wish by the Snowfather. Competing with sleds powered by robot dogs and polar bears and a cheating contestant, Sir Basil Sprout-Dumpling, Shen and Sika face not only the dangers of a weeklong race over the perilous course through the 50 types of snow of True Winter but also encounters with a multitentacled monster of the Kraken Deep, were-snowmen, and yetis serving addictive noodles. Children will find it impossible not to laugh out loud as they read this third stand-alone adventure in Reeve and McIntyre’s Not-So-Impossible Tale series.

Virgil & Owen Stick Together. Paulette Bogan. 2016. Bloomsbury.

virgil_owenThe friendship between polar opposites, Virgil, a penguin, and Owen, a polar bear, who became best friends in Virgil & Owen (2015), is tested as lively Virgil keeps interrupting slower paced Owen in school activities. For example, as Owen slowly counts snowballs “One…two…three,” Virgil jumps in with “Four, five, SIX. Easy peasy, my friend.” Finally, Owen has had enough of Virgil’s rushing him, and with a “RROOAARRR,” he sends Virgil rolling through the snow and in need of help to get unburied. Virgil apologizes for being pushy, Owen says he’s sorry for roaring at Virgil, and the two walk home with their friendship intact. Bogan’s simple text and expressive mixed-media illustrations offer a gentle lesson on the importance of patience and the understanding of differences if friends are going to stick together.

Ages 9–11

The Last Bogler (How to Catch a Bogle #3). Catherine Jinks. Ill. Sarah Watts. 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

last_boglerAlfred Bunce, the bogler extraordinaire who tracks down and kills bogles, and Ned Roach, his assistant who is clever but not keen on serving as bogle bait, continue the hunt for the child-eating monsters. Ned and Alfred, along with Alfred’s previous bogler assistants, Birdie McAdam and Jem Barbary, become members of the newly created government Committee for the Regulation of Subterranean Anomalies. The mass production of magical bogle-killing spears like Alfred’s and the engineering of a plan for the mass slaughter of bogles in the system of sewers beneath the city hold the promise of the end to the plague of bogles responsible for the disappearance of young children in Victorian London. The epilogue of this final book in the trilogy, which includes How to Catch a Bogle (2013) and A Plague of Bogles (2015), reveals the promising life-after-bogling prospects of the series’ main characters.

Mission Panda Rescue: All About Pandas and How to Save Them. (Mission Animal Rescue). Kitson Jazynka (with Daniel Raven-Ellison). 2016. National Geographic Kids.

panda_rescueOf all the endangered animals in the world, the giant panda may the most irresistible. Children will initially be drawn to this book by the abundance of photographs of pandas. Reading on, they will learn about the characteristics, life cycle, and behavior of the giant panda. The book includes up-close-and-personal “Meet a Panda” stories about individuals such as Bao Bao, who celebrated his first birthday at Washington, DC’s National Zoo on August 23, 2014, and Meng Meng, Shuai Shuai, and Kuku, the only set of surviving triplets on record, who were born at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangshou, China, in July 2014. The efforts of scientists and conservationists to learn about the endangered species and its disappearing natural habitat are highlighted in “Explorer Interview” features. Particular attention is given to the “rewilding” training of pandas raised in captivity for reintroduction to their natural habitat. Each chapter ends with an “Rescue Activities” section with hands-on activities and challenges for kids who want to help save pandas. Back matter includes a wealth of resources and an index.

The Terrible Two Get Worse (The Terrible Two #2). Jory John & Mac Barnett. Ill. Kevin Cornell. 2016. Amulet/Abrams.

terrible_twoMiles Murphy and Niles Sparks, pranksters who became friends and sole members of the secret pranking club, The Terrible Two, in The Terrible Two (2015), continue their mischief at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy as another school year begins. They are so successful at pranking that the school board puts Principal Barkin on an involuntary, indefinite leave of absence for lacking the “principal power” to control the epidemic of practical jokes on campus and appoints Former Principal Barkin (Principal Barkin’s father) to replace him. Former Principal Barkin’s plan for a prank-free school year seems to be working as prank after prank fizzles until the Terrible Two’s plot to get their old principal reinstated succeeds on the last day of school. Cornell’s black-and-white white cartoon artwork adds to the fun of this oh-so-silly school story that will leave readers hoping for the return of Miles and Niles for another year of pranking in a third book in the Terrible Two series.

Ages 12–14

Every Second Counts. Sophie McKenzie. 2016. Simon & Schuster.

every-second-countsIn the first book, In a Split Second (2015), teens Nat and Charlie trained with the English Freedom Army, believing it was an antiterrorist organization, and unwittingly were involved in a bombing and a kidnapping. Framed for these acts of terrorism, the pair are now on the run and working with a handful of members of a poorly organized resistance movement. Nat and Charlie are intent on clearing their names and saving England from takeover by the EFA leader, diabolical politician Roman Riley. This sequel, with short chapters told from the alternating perspectives of Nat and Charlie, concludes McKenzie’s fast-paced thriller set in London in the near future. Every Second Counts, whether read alone or as a follow-up to the first book, is a good choice for readers looking for an action-packed story with political intrigue and a bit of romance.

Starborn(Dragonborn #4). Toby Forward. 2016. Bloomsbury.

starbornIn this final book of the Dragonborn Quartet, Tadpole, a curious roffle eager to see stars for the first time and to encounter one of the mysterious Kravvins that have made it unsafe for roffles to leave their underground Deep World home, disobeys his elders and uses a roffle door to go Up Top. Once above ground, the naïve young roffle finds himself joining with wizard apprentices Sam and Tamarin, their dragon Starback, and the small group of remaining wizards with old magic to do battle with the imprisoned evil wizard Ash. If Ash makes a successful escape, she will use her wild magic to eliminate all real magic and cause chaos in the world. Courageous and heroic Tadpole is a fitting addition to the cast of interesting magical characters from earlier books as this well-crafted fantasy series comes to an exciting conclusion.

Ages 15+

Passenger (Passenger #1). Alexandra Bracken. 2016. Hyperion.

passengerSeventeen-year-old Etta, a gifted violinist poised to make her concert soloist debut in present-day New York City abruptly finds herself a prisoner aboard a ship on the Atlantic in 1776. Etta soon learns that she has inherited the ability to time travel from her mother. Nicholas Carter, the captain of the ship, was hired by the power-hungry head of the Ironwood family to deliver Etta to him. Ironwood wants to use Etta to find a valuable astrolabe, an instrument that could be used to alter time, that Etta’s mother has hidden. Clues to its location are in a letter that only Etta can decipher. Once she learns that Ironwood is holding her mother prisoner, Etta is determined to find the astrolabe and use it herself to return to her own time and rescue her mother. With Nicholas, who also has an old connection to the time-traveling Ironwood family, Etta sets out on a quest that has them moving through time-travel passages around the world in different centuries that takes them from New York City in 1776, to London in 1940, to Angkor in 1685, to Paris in 1880, and to Damascus in 1590, where this lengthy (486 pages) first book in the series ends with a startling cliffhanger.

Carolyn Angus is former Director of the George G. Stone Center for Children's Books, Claremont Graduate University.

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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