March 09, 2006


Breyer Stablemates: Patch. By Kristin Earhart. Illustrated by Lisa Papp. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $4.99.

Breyer Stablemates: Starlight. By Kristin Earhart. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $4.99.

The Weather Fairies #1: Crystal the Snow Fairy. By Daisy Meadows. Illustrated by Georgie Ripper. Little Apple/Scholastic. $4.99.

Fly Guy #2: Super Fly Guy. By Tedd Arnold. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $5.99.

     Series are not a bad idea at all for kids ages 4-8.  In this age range, children who find something they enjoy are likely to stick with it – and if they can get more and more and MORE of it, so much the better.  Scholastic has series for girls in this age range, series for boys, even series for flies.  Or about flies.  Whatever.

     Girls who know Breyer – a major maker of equestrian-themed toys and collectibles – will immediately gravitate to the Breyer Stablemates series of early chapter books.  The books are horse-themed, of course, and also carry a moderately heavy-handed (by parents’ standards) message of friendship.  Not a bad message, though.  Each book focuses on different types of horses, gives factual information on them at the end, and includes a punch-out horse card to display or trade.  Patch is about Lauren and her pinto, Patch, meeting Sarah and her palomino, Gold Charm.  After some initial disharmony, the two girls become good friends.  A palomino card is included.  Starlight comes with a card of a Morgan and is about a girl named Haley whose Morgan foal gets lost in the woods – and bonds closely with Haley after the girl rescues the filly.

     Girls who prefer fairies to foals can try the Weather Fairies series, which will be seven books long.  Each will focus on a single Weather Fairy whose magical feather has been stolen by Jack Frost and his goblins.  Two human friends, Rachel and Kirsty, help the fairies search for the missing feathers.  In Crystal the Snow Fairy, the absence of the first feather leads to snow in summer and a goblin that makes ice cubes.  After a mildly amusing escape, the feather is back where it belongs and Rachel and Kirsty are awaiting their next adventure.

     For a series oriented more toward boys than girls, try Fly Guy, whose hero is – well, a fly.  A real fly, completely with a fondness for garbage (though this fly doesn’t carry disease; he’s not that realistic).  The second book of this offbeat series has Fly Guy and his boy, Buzz, going to school together, where Fly Guy makes friends with the lunch lady by saying her name, Roz (actually, he says “Rozzz!”).  Roz, deciding this fly is okay, feeds him a delicious concoction (well, delicious to flies) of “chicken bones and fish heads in sour milk.”  But Roz’s boss doesn’t approve, firing Roz and replacing her with Miss Muzzle, who turns out to be a really terrible cook.  Can Buzz and Fly Guy find a way to get rid of Miss Muzzle and bring Roz back?  Yezzzz they can – in a delightfully silly romp whose exaggerated illustrations are as much fun as its slapstick story.

     What will all these series do for an encore?  The likely answer: more of the same – which will be just what fans of the series want.

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