Skip to main content

The Cool Crazy Crickets Club written by David Elliott, illustrated by Paul Meisel, 47pp RL 1.5

The Cool Crazy Crickets Club and The Cool Crazy Crickets to the Rescue are (hopefully) a new series of beginning reader chapter books from author David Elliott and illustrator Paul Meisel. Besides his many other chapter and picture books, you may recognize David Elliott from last year's superb picture book, Finn Throws a Fit, illustrated by the magnificent Timothy Basil Ering, illustrator of the Newbery winning Tale of Desperaux by Kate diCamillo. Finn Throws a Fit perfectly chronicles the the impossible to anticipate moods of a toddler that, in the best cases, are weathered with patience and love by mystified parents.

The Cool Crazy Crickets series, along with Jennifer Richard Jacobson's Andy Shane series, both of which are published by the always excellent Candlewick Press, really deserve a Reading Level label of their own, which I have now bestowed upon them! Reading Level 1.5! These books are shorter and a bit easier to read than the average second grade reading level book (think Magic Tree House, Junie B Jones, Daisy Dawson and The Time Warp Trio) but more difficult than a traditional first grade level book like Mercy Watson, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa and Poppleton.  While there are increasingly more and more beginning to read books that also make great read out loud books (Elephant and PiggiePoppletonMercy Watson and Frog and Toad) books written at this level are best for reading alone because the plots are more basic, the vocabulary a bit more simplistic and they are meant to appeal specifically to their intended six or seven year old audience.

Two boys and two girls make up the main cast of characters in this series. In book one, The Cool Crazy Crickets Club, Leo is sitting on his front porch with his friend Marcus and his dog, Noodles when they decide to start a club. Phoebe and Miranda show up, join the club and start suggesting names. There is a back and forth between the boys and girls about what a good name would be and a great team effort in choosing the name. Next, the club needs to find a club house and a mascot. An empty refrigerator box and Leo's dog Noodles prove perfect for these goals. In book 2, The Cool Crazy Crickets to the Rescue, the action picks up a bit when the club decides to earn money for snacks instead of charging dues. There is a funny scene where the kids share some wordplay with "do's," "dues," and "don'ts." The Crickets babysit, pet sit and sell lemonade and are trying to figure out how to spend their earnings when they discover the neighborhood stray cat sleeping in the clubhouse. When Phoebe notices that the cat is sick, they know how to spend their money - taking their new mascot to the vet.

The Crickets and Andy Shane series take experiences and concerns from the lives of kids and present them in a format that these very kids can read and appreciate on their own.  I hope that there are more books of this variety to begin filling the shelves soon!


Jeremy said…
These sound great -- thanks for the pointer.

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…