...based almost entirely on my son's recent reviews. Some he picked out himself, some I saw on the new book shelf in the kids' section of our library, and he couldn't get enough of them. Which is a very good thing on a winter teacher inservice day when it is raining cats and dogs.
Billy Clikk: Creatch Battler and its sequel Billy Clikk: Rogmasher Rampage by fellow Michigander Mark Crilley were the most recent favorites. Great comic-book like illustrations, fun science fiction, we'll be checking his Akiko series out next. Hey, it's important that I read what he reads to make sure it's ok, right?
Another series by a Michigan author that is on its way to becoming more popular in the rest of the country is Jonathan Rand's American Chillers and the (even cooler for those of us living in Michigan) Michigan Chillers. They're a bit like the much maligned Goosebumps books, but I absolutely love the titles and the cover illustrations. Alien Androids Assault Arizona, Minnesota Mall Mannequins, Poltergeists of Petoskey, Kreepy Klowns of Kalamazoo, Sinister Spiders of Saginaw - who could ask for more? Except for some more titles on Ann Arbor, Lansing, Tecumseh, Benton Harbor, Cheboygan, Grayling, Kalkaska, Saugatauk....you get the idea.
Jonathan Rand himself is coming to visit my son's school for "Reading Week" in March, so I'm looking forward to getting a copy of Au Sable Alligators then.
And last but not least, How to Train Your Dragon (by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III), translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell, and its sequel How to Be a Pirate, have the funniest illustrations I've seen since Captain Underpants. My son was begging for more of these, though he had to ask about some British slang.
You've probably noticed that these are pretty boy-oriented books. My son, like many of his classmates, was not an enthusiastic reader in Kindergarten and 1st grade. Luckily, Calvin & Hobbes cartoon books and Captain Underpants got him hooked on independent reading, and now he will even read to his 4 year old sister with minimal urging. He still prefers the the kind of stuff recommended on GuysRead.com, however. He has little interest in Little House on the Prairie, so it's a good thing these authors have all these great books that appeal to boys (and that happily also have active girls that rank right up there with the Paper Bag Princess). My son really gets into series books, which according to the recent Newsweek article "A Series of Extraordinarily Fortunate Events" (get it? maybe you have to know Lemony Snicket) can be a good thing. Maybe it's a good thing my parents still have all those Hardy Boy and Nancy Drew books.