Early Chapter Books, Early Readers, Graphic Novel

Reviews of New Ready-to-Read Graphics from Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing


Thank you to Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing for sending review copies of Ready-to-Read Graphics, a new addition to their Ready-to-Read line.  All opinions are my own.  Ready-to-Read Grpahics are a great way to introduce beginning readers to graphic novels.  Check out the characteristics below!

The first book in each series will be published next week on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.  Subsequent books in each series will be forthcoming. For more information, click on Ready-to-Read Graphics!


Thunder and Cluck: Friends Do Not Eat Friends by Jill Esbaum Illustrated by Miles Thompson (Level 1)

Thunder, a large carnivorous dinosaur, attempts to scare Cluck, a small pterodactyl with his loud roar, but Cluck isn’t convinced.  In fact, as Thunder continues to make noise, Cluck is pretty chill staying put to enjoy his rest on the grass.  Cluck’s lack of response infuriates Thunder but as the two banter back and forth, it is pretty clear that Cluck’s comments are making Thunder rethink his whole plan.  Can a friendship truly blossom between these two dinosaurs?  

Thunder and Cluck is a great introduction to graphic novel for beginning readers, for the story is mostly one or two panels per page with some wordless page spreads.  Esbaum’s peppy dialogue is concise and includes many high frequency words that young readers can recognize and read.  With an accessible text, kids can focus on the characters especially the transformation of Thunder from ferocious to friendly.  Thompson’s lively illustrations humurously show each character’s contrast in personalities.   Stay tuned for The Brave Friends Leads the Way (Book 2) coming out in August 2021!


Nugget and Dog: All Ketchup No Mustard by Jason Tharp (Level 2)

(Chicken) Nugget and (Hot) Dog are neighbors and best friends.  One day, they look in a chest in Great-Grandpa Frank-Furter’s attic and find a mask, a paper, and a photo.  After showing Gramps the items, he tells them of being a K.E.T.C.H.U.P. Cruscader in his youth.  Each letter stood for a positive word (kind, thoughful, courageous, etc.) and the group was formed to save Gastroplis from the evil Mayo Naze and her mold.  By being kind, emphathetic, and helpful to Mayo Naze, the Cruscaders convinced her to use power for good, not evil.  But now, her great-grandson Dijon Mustard, is hatching his own evil plan.  Can Nugget and Dog use K.E.T.C.H.U.P to save the town once again?  

With cool characters, an intriguing plot, and engaging illustrations, Nugget and Dog is a hilarious story with an affirming message!  Tharp’s comic panels are bold and playful and the text includes puns that will keep kids laughing throughout the story.  As an adult, I chuckled every time Dijon appeared on the scene, for he is perfectly evil with his slanty eyebrows and his MWAHAHA outbursts with his sidekick Crouton. 

What I especially loved is how Nugget and Dog showed the power of positivity and the message that you can do big things even if you are small.    The next Nugget and Dog adventure, Yum Fest is the Best (Book 2), publishes in August 2021. 

Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too! by Maggie P. Chang (Level 3)

Like a lot of kids her age, Geraldine’s favorite time of the school day is lunch.  Amah (Grandma in Taiwanese) makes the best food and even includes notes in her grinning lunch box, which Geraldine affectionately Biandang.  Look how cute he is!


But when Nico who sits by Geraldine smells her curry and loudly says “EW”! and further remarks “Your lunch is gross,” other classmates follow with words like “yuck” and “weird.” Although Geraldine loves her Amah’s Taiwanese lunches, she is now nervous to eat them at the lunch table. Geraldine is so upset that she not only does eat not the delicious bao but also takes her anger out on Biandang throwing him, but then quickly apologizing and mending him. On the next day, right before Geraldine opens Biandang, Nico makes another rude comment, but it is now directed at Deven and his lunch. Geraldine knows that she has to stand up both for herself and Deven and teach her classmates a powerful lesson to be both open minded and compassionate.

Young children need to learn about the effects of microaggressions and debut author/illustrator Chang’s Geraldine Pu and Her Lunch Box Too is the perfect story to help kids understand how their comments can be hurtful to their peers. Chang’s comic panels are bright and detailed with a large text to make it easy to read. Geraldine’s thoughts ands feelings are conveyed through the narration and the dialogue, The number of panels per page increases which shows the Ready-to-Read level progression from 1 to 3. Bonuses include an author explanation of how Geraldine and her family speak English, Madarin Chinese, and Taiwanese, as well as a glossary of Madarin and Taiwanese words with pictures. In addition, at the end of the book, Biandang shares his thoughts too about names and foods highlighted in the story, and Amah shares her steamed pork bao recipe. A second book has not been shared yet, but I am hopeful the wait won’t be long!

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