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MPMK Reading Lists: The Early Reader World of Cynthia Rylant

I’m so pleased to be back today with another installment of “MPMK’s Learning to Love Reading Book Lists” series.  This time our talented guest poster Lisa has decided to focus on a specific author instead of age group.  I love that she’s picked a great one who writes for kids of all ages so you get them hooked early and then keep feeding the obsession as they grow.  Also, many of these books are super inexpensive – around $3.99 each.  Here’s Lisa with the goods:


Cynthia Rylant is a prolific and award winning writer for children. She has won a Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor, and two of her books have received a Caldecott Honor. In addition to her many picture books and novels, she has written numerous book series for early readers. Each series has its own unique cast of endearing characters. 


Once children become hooked on one of Rylant’s series, they can continue reading about the characters they’ve grown to love. This makes her a dream author for parents because keeping kids supplied in books is as easy as just picking up the next book in the series. Her books have always been among my children’s favorite series. 


Within each series I have listed the books in the order they were published. Fantastic Fiction is a very helpful website for finding out the order of whichever book series your child is reading and when new installments are due out in a favorite series. Visit the website’s page for Cynthia Rylant here.


Also, please note that it’s challenging to put different series in order of reading difficulty, especially when the reading levels of individual books within a series often vary. The grade levels noted below are only approximated. For instance, Henry and Mudge may work for strong first grade readers and for struggling third grade readers. Additionally, a book’s reading level is not the sole indicator for choosing a book to read. For example, a reader’s interest level can have a strong influence on a child’s success in reading a book at a challenging reading level. 



Children in Preschool and Kindergarten who are Just Beginning to Read


Brownie & Pearl series, Illustrated by Brian Biggs


Simon & Schuster Beach Lane Books


Rylant’s newest series is for children just entering the world of reading. The large, bold letters and simple sentences support beginning readers. Six books follow the antics of Brownie and her friendly cat, Pearl. The two friends experience everyday moments together, such as wading in a pool and getting ready for bed. The digitally rendered illustrations are colorful and bright. The first book in the series is Brownie & Pearl Step Out. The newest book in the series, Brownie & PearlGo for a Spin, is due out February of 2012. Check out the illustrator’s website here.



Click through for lots more…


Puppy Mudge series, Illustrated by Isidre Mones


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ready-to-Read Pre-Level 1


The star of this series is Henry’s dog, Mudge, during his playful puppy stage. Newer readers can access Mudge’s adventures via the support of short sentences and repeated phrases. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are done in the style of Suçie Stevenson, the illustrator of the Henry and Mudge books. Puppy Mudge Takes a Bath is the first of the five books in this series. Check out the illustrator’s website here.



Children Reading Around the Beginning of Second Grade


Henry and Mudge series, Illustrated by Suçie Stevenson


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ready-to-Read Level 2


As I was working on my post, surrounded by Cynthia Rylant’s books, my 16-year-old daughter wandered by and picked up a Henry and Mudge book. After reading it, she announced: “I officially love Henry and Mudge books!” She’s in luck, because Rylant has written almost 40 of them. Henry is an only child who lives on a street with no friends, so he convinces his parents to buy him a dog. He chooses a puppy with floppy ears that grows up to be a huge, slobbery, loveable dog. Mudge is Henry’s best friend, and he is never far from Henry’s side. 


The storylines focus on fun activities such as family reunions and playing in the snow. The colorful and expressive pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are very appealing. You can get the box set of all 15 books here.  Otherwise, start with Henry and Mudge: The First Book, which introduces readers to Henry and Mudge. Rylant won the Geisel Award in 2006 for Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas. The most recent book in the series is Henry and Mudge and the Big Sleepover. The illustrator is currently designing her new website.



Annie and Snowball series, Illustrated by Suçie Stevenson


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ready-to-Read Level 2


Henry’s cousin, Annie, is now the star of her own book series. She and her pet bunny, Snowball, live next door to Henry and his pet dog, Mudge. Annie loves all things pink and frilly. She and Snowball share many fun experiences with Henry and Mudge. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are done in soft, pastel colors. There are nine books in the series; the first is Annie and Snowball and the Dress-up Birthday. The newest book in the series, Annie and Snowball and the Surprise Day, is due out March of 2012. 


Annie and Snowball and the Cozy Nest
Annie and Snowball and the Shining Star
Annie and Snowball and the Magical House
Annie and Snowball and the Pink Surprise
Annie and Snowball and the Wintry Freeze
Annie and Snowball and the Thankful Friends


Children Reading Around the Middle of Second Grade


The High-Rise Private Eyes series, Illustrated by G. Brian Karas


Greenwillow Books, An I Can Read Book Level 2


Detective friends, Bunny Brown and Jack Jones, solve cases together. Bunny is a rabbit private eye, and Jack is her raccoon sidekick. These humorous books are full of funny characters and witty dialogue. The full-color illustrations are done using pencil and paint. My daughters found this series to be a bit more challenging than the Henry and Mudge books. There are eight books in the series; the first is The Case of the Missing Monkey. Visit the illustrator’s website here.


The Case of the Troublesome Turtle
The Case of the Sleepy Sloth
The Case of the Fidgety Fox
The Case of the Baffled Bear
The Case of the Deperate Duck
Children Reading Around the End of Second Grade


Mr. Putter & Tabby series, Illustrated by Arthur Howard, Harcourt Brace & Company


My 14-year-old daughter’s favorite Cynthia Rylant series is Mr. Putter & Tabby: “It’s so sweet and sincere. Even though it’s about older people, I feel like I can relate.” There are 22 books in the Mr. Putter & Tabby series. Mr. Putter is an elderly man who adopts an old cat named Tabby to keep him company. Mr. Putter’s neighbor, Mrs. Teaberry, owns a mischievous bulldog named Zeke. The two friends and their pets have many delightful adventures together. 


The pencil and paint illustrations really bring the characters’ personalities to life and add a great deal of humor to the stories. One of my all time favorite books is Mr. Putter & Tabby Take the Train. Mr. Putter and Mrs. Teaberry’s attempts to hide their pets in order to take them on a train ride are absolutely hilarious! The first book in the series is Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea. The latest book in the series is Mr. Putter & Tabby Ring the Bell.



Poppleton series, Illustrated by Mark Teague


Scholastic Books, Scholastic Reader Level 3


Poppleton is a pig who moves to the country when he tires of living in the city. He soon meets his neighbors and makes new friends. Each chapter is a mini story chronicling Poppleton’s small town experiences. Watercolor illustrations bring the animals’ activities to life. There are eight books in the series; the first is Poppleton


Poppleton Forever
Poppleton has Fun 
Poppleton in Fall
Poppleton in Spring
Poppleton in Winter


Children reading around a third grade level may want to check out Rylant’s series for older readers: Little Whistle, The Cobble Street Cousins, and The Lighthouse Family.



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