Cockroaches and Chocolate Eggs

Lynn:  We’re talking about cockroaches, sharks and huge chocolate eggs today.  Can’t go wrong with that!  Well, we’re also talking about chapter books for emergent readers and I get to start with the first of a series by Steve Voake called Hooey Higgins and the Shark (Candlewick 2012).  In this American launch of a delightful British series starring Hooey and his pal Twig, Hooey sees a giant chocolate egg in the window of Mr. Danson’s corner store and it is love at first sight.  The trouble is that Hooey only has 5 pounds and the egg costs 65 pounds!  “That’s an awful lot of money,” says Hooey.  “That’s an awful lot of oeuf,” says Mr. Danson.  Clearly Hooey needs a plan and it doesn’t take long for him to concoct a scheme.  A shark has been spotted in the harbor and Hooey is convinced that all they have to do is catch it, charge people to see it and the egg is theirs.  So after asking his Grandpa to leave the bathwater in the tub, Hooeyand Twig set their trap.  What follows is wacky fun nicely assisted by Emma Dodson’s goofy illustrations.  Newly independent readers will eat this up and look for more.  Voake’s British English may be sometimes puzzling but there’s plenty of clues in the text and pictures and I think young readers will delight in the fun.

Cindy: Only a frosted cupcake with sprinkles could get me to read a book about a cockroach. I still have nightmares about the first apartment I rented. Those cockroaches did not wear pink bows on their heads! Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake by Katie Speck (Henry Holt 2012) reminds me of a Tom and Jerry cartoon in some ways. The Peabody kitchen has a fresh baked batch of cupcakes with pink icing and chopped nuts and chocolate sprinkles ready for a bake sale. Maybelle can’t wait to taste one…her antennae are twitching in anticipation. Her friend Henry the flea reminds her of the THE RULES:

When it’s light, stay out of sight;
if you’re spied, better hide;
never meet with human feet.

It turns out that Maybelle doesn’t have to wait until dark because Bernice, an industrious worker ant, shows up and up for the challenge. Bernice has a bad cold and can’t smell sufficiently enough to find her way back to her nest so she offers to work for Maybelle. Bernice is used to fetching food and waiting on the Queen so she heads off to grab a fallen sprinkle for Maybelle. I think you get the idea of the potential pitfalls. There’s lots of insect fun in this early chapter book in addition to a truly haunted cupcake that mysteriously “walks” across the kitchen floor at one point. Giggles will accompany young readers as they join the quest for yummy cupcake treats.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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