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Sequels and Series

By Nancy Brashear and Carolyn Angus
 | Mar 04, 2019

Series are perennial favorites for many readers of all ages. Once they have been introduced to characters in a picture book or novel, they enjoy following them through new books. This week’s column includes reviews of several much-anticipated sequels and some first books in new series in a variety of genres.

Ages 4–8

A Gift for Goose (Duck & Goose). Tad Hills. 2019. Schwartz & Wade/Random House.

A Gift for GooseDuck has a gift for his friend Goose. After putting the gift (not pictured) into a white box, he decorates and presents a splendid blue, red, and yellow striped box to Goose. “For me?” honks Goose. “It is the nicest box I have ever seen!” “But…,” quacks Duck, looking downcast, as Goose makes plans to put his special things in it. When Duck finally says, “But, Goose, this box is not your gift,” it is Goose who looks sad. Duck explains, “Your gift is inside this box,” and when Goose opens the box, he—and the reader—are in for a surprise. Young children who have enjoyed listening to Duck and Goose stories will be delighted to read this new early reader on their own.

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog. (Madeline Finn #2). Lisa Papp. 2019. Peachtree.

Madeline Finn and the Shelter DogAfter Madeline adopts Star, puppy of Bonnie, the library dog who helped her love reading in Madeline Finn and the Library Dog (2016),Mrs. Dimple, the librarian, invites Madeline and her mother to join her at the shelter where she volunteers with animals needing “forever homes.” Soft pastel illustrations in pencil and watercolor show Madeline taking care of Star and, after visiting the shelter, worrying that those animals aren’t getting the same attention she gives Star. Creating a program (“Come read to the shelter animals. / Bring a blanket and a book.”), Madeline and other children read to the animals, and Mr. Chips, the loneliest dog there, finally finds his own “forever home.”

Penguin Flies Home (Flight School #2). Lita Judge. 2019. Atheneum/Simon & Schuster.

Penguin Flies HomePenguin loves to fly, so he enrolled in flight school where he’s the mascot. However, it’s only when tethered to Flamingo high in the sky that he feels “the wind beneath his wings, / the song that rose from his little round belly, / the sight of new and wonderful places.” Realizing that Penguin misses his friends, Teacher and Flamingo “fly” him back to the South Pole where his fellow penguins are interested in swimming, not flying. Penguin’s question to himselfabout whether his friends will like him if they don’t share the same dreamsis answered when they celebrate his individuality before he returns to school. This lyrical story, accompanied by expressive illustrations rendered in pencil and watercolor, will encourage readers to follow their own dreams and soar.

William Wakes Up. Linda Ashman. Ill. Chuck Groenink. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

William Wakes UpWilliam, a young boy, awakens his sleeping animal friends (Chipmunk, Porcupine, Groundhog, and Bear) with the repeated refrain, “Wake up! It’s spring! / Today’s the day— / a special guest is on the way / Rise and shine—no time to lose.” Pencil-and-Photoshop illustrations in earth tones depict everyone busily baking a Welcome Cake, tidying up the cabin, and decorating—except for Raccoon, who “snores and burrows deep” until special guest Bluebird arrives and he hears the word “cake.” After Chipmunk and Bear protest that since Raccoon hasn’t helped at all, “He shouldn’t get a single slice,” Raccoon volunteers to help Bluebird build a nest, and William says, “But first / grab a plate— / …right now it’s time to celebrate!” A rhyming text with a repetitive refrain and humorous illustrations make this sequel to William’s Winter Nap (2017) a perfect read-aloud.

Ages 911

Amazing Origami Animals (Amazing Origami). Rob Ives. 2019. Hungry Tomato/Lerner.

Amazing Origami AnimalsThis book from a new series on origami begins with a brief introduction to the art of paper folding and a how-to-get-started section on folds, arrows, and directions that are the basics of origami. Clear and easy-to-follow illustrated steps lead children through projects of increasing difficulty from a bird, butterfly, and fox created in 78 steps to a dog, frog, mouse, and rabbit in 1314 steps. Each project is introduced with a brief note about the animal. Children can continue having more paper-folding fun with Rob Ives’ Amazing Origami Dinosaurs, Amazing Origami Vehicles, and Amazing Origami Gifts published simultaneously.

Escape from the Palace (The Royal Rabbits of London #2). Santa Montefiore & Simon Sebag Montefiore. Ill. Kate Hindley. 2019. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster.

Royal Rabbits of LondonShylo Tawny-Tail, the timid country bunny who journeyed to London and led the Royal Rabbits who live underground beneath Buckingham Palace in foiling the scandalous scheme of the Ratzis against the Queen in The Royal Rabbits of London (2018), is now proudly one of the Royal Rabbits. With the arrival of the POTUS (accompanied by the ROTUS, the Rabbits of the United States), Papa Ratzis has ordered the Ratzis to disrupt the Royal Banquet. Shylo, who has been kidnapped by the Ratzis, must escape if he is to help the Royal Rabbits and American Jack Rabbits prevent destruction of the “Special Relationship” between Britain and America. The intriguing Epilogue promises another adventure of Shylo Tawny-Tail, the unlikely hero of this fast-paced, humorous animal fantasy series.

The Extremely High Tide! (Secrets of Topsea #2). Kir Fox & M. Shelley Coats. Ill. Rachel Sanson. 2019. Disney-Hyperion.

The Extremely High TideWhen Talise, the only bathymetrist in Topsea, the bizarre town first visited by readers in A Friendly Town That’s Almost Always by the Ocean (2018), discovers a mysterious message in a bottle on a beachcombing trip with Ms. Grimalkin’s fifth-grade class, she takes it as sign that she must build a boat in preparation for an impending Extremely High Tide. In 14 linked episodic stories about Talise and her fellow students, a delightfully wacky adventure unfolds as The Topsea School Gazette reports breaking news that an Extremely High Tide is coming and the Town Committee for Lunar Consequences sends out notification to ignore these rumors. And, when the predicted rare tide does hit, Talise’s boat is needed to return a beached narwhal to the ocean.

From an Idea to Nike: How Marketing Made Nike a Global Success (From an Idea). Lowey Bundy Sichol. Ill. C. S. Jennings. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

From an Idea to NikeFor an assignment in an entrepreneurship class at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, “Invent a new business, describe its purpose, and create a marketing plan,” Phil Knight, who had been a high school and college runner, developed the idea of a company to make affordable specialized running shoes for competitive athletes. Lowey Bundy Sichol tells the story of the growth of Knight’s idea into what is now the multibillion-dollar Nike corporation, focusing on the role marketing played in its success. The accessible text includes insets with definitions of basic business terms; “Fun Facts”; quotations; and sections on basic marketing concepts. Back matter includes a timeline of Nike, a list of Nike’s top endorsement deals, source notes, and a bibliography.

Ages 12–14

Comet Rising (Shadow Weavers #2). MarcyKate Connolly. 2019. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky/Sourcebooks.

Comet RisingEmmeline (a shadow weaver) and best friend Lucas (a light singer) are hunted while searching for Lucas’ missing parents and talent allies to fight evil Lady Aisling, who kidnaps magical children of all sorts to plant in her dying Garden of Souls where she feasts on their powers. Using a sky shaker, Lady Aisling makes the Cerelia Comet appear 12 years early to produce more talents—and misaligns the heavens, which must be set right before destruction hits. More complications arise as Emmeline and Lucas race to save their world. Readers may want to revisit the first book in this duology, Shadow Weaver (2018), to fully appreciate this companion book.

Slayer (Slayer #1). Kiersten White. 2019. Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

SlayetrIt’s two years since Buffy, the Chosen One (a slayer, specially endowed to fight demons), threw good and evil out of balance. It’s been 62 days since Buffy died destroying the Seed of Wonder that fed all magic on earth and Nina got showered in interdimensional demonic goo. Nina and her twin, Artemis, are students at the Watcher’s Academy in Scotland where Nina serves as the castle’s only medic, and Artemis trains to qualify one day as a Watcher (a personal slayer assistant). When a hellhound breaks onto the academy grounds and she kills it with hitherto unknown supernatural skill, Nina realizes that she is the last slayer, ever, and that while being chosen is easy, making choices is difficult.

Ages 15+

Courting Darkness (Courting Darkness #1). Robin LaFevers. 2019. Houghton Mifflin.

Courting DarknessIn this first book of a duology, it is 1489, and Sybella and Genevieve, daughters of Mortain (the god of death) who have trained as assassins at the Convent of Saint Mortain, make separate perilous journeys to the French court. Sybella continues serving as lady in waiting to Duchess Anne of Brittany, who will wed King Charles VIII, and Genevieve, embedded among the French nobility for years, intends to convince the king to save the Convent of Saint Mortain, which has been disbanded. All the political intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, murder, and romance of Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin Trilogy set during the 15th Century French-Breton War continues as the stories of these two strong women, presented in alternating voices, finally come together in the last chapter of this complex historical novel that leaves the reader eagerly waiting for the next book.  

Nancy Brashear is Professor Emeritus of English, 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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