Elliot's Park by Patrick Carman, illustrated by Jim Madsen, 62pp RL 2
The new series, Elliot's Park is by Patrick Carman, author of the popular Land of Elyon books written at the fourth grade reading level and the new Atherton series written at a slightly higher reading level. With this series, he is trying his hand at writing a series for the second grade reading level. The first book in the series, Saving Mister Nibbles, is followed by Haunted Hike and The Walnut Cup, which comes out in April of this year. Unlike Pee-Wee and Lexi in Johanna Hurwitz's Park Pals Adventure series, the squirrels of Elliot's park are anthropomorphiz. They wear clothes, have furniture in their homes and, above all else, have quirky personality traits like your standard kid's television characters. There is even a "Cast of Characters" section at the back of the book that details the differences and traits of the squirrels and other animals in the book. There are also some nifty things like a trail mix recipe, a guide on how to write your own park story and instructions for making a "tree constellation."
The first book, Saving Mister Nibbles, introduces us to the cast of characters who come together to rescue a mysterious squirrel from a birthday party going on in the park. As the squirrels look on, they watch the birthday boy squeeze the mysterious squirrel's ear and hear him say, "Hello, my name is Mister Nibbles. What is your name?" Then they hear the boy ask his mother if they can return Mister Nibbles, who is then stuffed into a box. The park squirrels know that this "return" thing can't be good and they vow to rescue Mister Nibbles. However, this comes to mean a stealth visit to the boy's house in the dark of night, including a potential run in with Roscoe and Coconut, two giant and smelly dogs who also live in the yellow house across from the park. After a few close calls, the squirrels rescue Mister Nibbles, who finds a happy home with Elliot.