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Find more Reid-Aloud Alert
Sequels to popular titles usually receive a lot of attention. Fans of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games could hardly wait for the sequel, Catching Fire. Before that, fans of the Twilight series snapped up the latest volumes as soon as they were published. It was the same with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Harry Potter, and many, many others—all the way back to Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women books. Recently, the authorized sequels of Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter Pan made the news.
Sequels are popular, but while many follow-ups are eagerly anticipated, others remain in the shadow of their predecessors. Not only are the following sequels worthy follow-ups but they can also be read independently. The authors succinctly inform the reader what has previously occurred, as well as how the respective characters relate to each other. Yes, reading the other books in the series is great if time allows. If not, have fun reading the following titles as they enjoy their moment in the spotlight. Note that the annotations below include a feature called the “10-Minute Selection” that showcases a particularly captivating episode of the book that can be read in one brief sitting.
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (Gr. 3–7): The four unique sisters from The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy (2005) are trying to prevent their father from dating. Their late mother wrote a letter before she died telling Mr. Penderwick to date again so that he wouldn’t be lonely. The girls put into action the “Save-Daddy Plan.” They match him up with undesirable women so that he’ll prefer to remain single. As the story progresses, each of the sisters faces her own problems and finds a comforting friend in their new next-door (and single) neighbor, Iantha. The rich layers of text, including several Latin words and phrases, are a delight to read aloud.
10-Minute Selection: Read the first few pages of Chapter 4, “Tempers Lost.” Skye is going through her pre-soccer-game ritual, which consists of stretches, “reciting out loud the prime numbers up to 811,” and “five minutes of picturing the other team bloody and repentant.” Stop with the sentence “‘Annihilation and humiliation for Cameron Hardware,’ she said when she was done, lingering happily on an image of Melissa vanquished.” Move on to the line “For the first half of the game nothing could bother Skye, not even Melissa’s phony ‘Good luck’ during the captains’ handshake.” During the game, Skye loses her temper, a fight ensues, and the game is canceled. End with the sentence “As soon as she could, she’d go up to her roof and think.”
The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin (K–Gr. 4): The anthropomorphic dolls from The Doll People (2000) and The Meanest Doll in the World (2003) are back. After a strange package arrives containing what might be a member of the family, some of the dolls run away. They must be very careful and follow the Doll Code of Honor (don’t let a human see them move), or they will risk Permanent Doll State. “A doll in PDS was thought to have committed an act so dangerous that he or she was a threat to the race of dolls, and therefore not to be trusted to continue as a living doll.” The dolls make their way through a city park and find themselves on display in McGinitie’s department store. If they get sold, they’ll be separated and never find their way back home. What’s worse, some of the dolls in the store are mysteriously disappearing.
10-Minute Selection: Read the last two pages of Chapter 8, “Dollies for Sale,” beginning with the sentence “The day slid away from Annabelle.” The department store closes and the cleaning crew arrives. When they leave, “a voice from within the display case said, ‘Party time!’” Read Chapter 9, titled “Nighttime in McGinitie’s,” in its entirety. Annabelle and her group meet the rest of the dolls in the store. When the fun evening comes to a close, Annabelle worries about her doll family left behind at home. “By now their parents would be frantic. And there was not a single thing Annabelle could do about that.”
My New Best Friend by Julie Bowe (Gr. 2–4): Ida May works hard to keep her best-friend status with Stacey in this sequel to My Last Best Friend (2007), even if it means lying to her parents. Stacey makes plans to stay over at Ida’s house instead of visiting her father for the weekend. She asks Ida to lie for her, but both are caught. The two girls start a secret club based on a creepy mermaid nightlight. They believe the mermaid makes their wishes come true, which leads to Stacey’s bold lying. Ida’s bossy rival, Jenna, learns about the club and creates her own—the Do-Good Nymphs.
10-Minute Selection: Read the last two pages of Chapter 2 beginning with the sentence “As soon as I get home I stomp upstairs.” Ida thinks Jenna is a jerk, and she asks her mermaid nightlight for an evil spell. The chapter ends with “Then I dive for my bed and hide under my covers before her evil, glowing grin makes me pee my pants.” Read all of Chapter 3. Jenna has bright green hair as a result of a batched dye job. Ida and Stacey are convinced their wish came true. They also wish their math quiz will be canceled and their teacher later becomes sick. The girls look at each other and exclaim, “The mermaid.”
Minn and Jake’s Almost Terrible Summer by Janet S. Wong (Gr. 3–6): Jake’s summer vacation starts out poorly. He throws up in public and runs into the ladies’ room, where Haylee finds him. “Perfect Haylee Hirata, / the girl Jake had a crush on / in kindergarten, / and first grade, / not second grade / (when her front teeth were missing) but / third grade / and fourth grade, too.” This is just one of several of Jake’s embarrassing moments. He also gets into arguments with his best friend, Minn. She is surprised to learn he is part Asian. Jake has Korean heritage as well as Norwegian, German, and French. “They spend the rest of the meal in silence, / eating kimchi, gulping water, / and fanning their flaming tongues.” The story, told in free verse, is a follow-up to Minn and Jake (2003).
10-Minute Selection: Read most of Chapter 7, “Venice Beach,” beginning with the sentence “You might know / how to find your way around in the wild, / Jake brags, but I know my way around here.” Jake and Minn are walking around Venice Beach with Jake’s little brother, Soup. Soup enters an ice-cream eating contest. Even though he finishes in last place, the crowd cheers for him. “No one cares that Wanda the Wonder Eater / has broken her record of 33 cones / in ten minutes.” After eating all that ice cream, Soup runs into a nearby Porta-Potty. When he emerges, he’s ready to eat a hot dog and a churro.
The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich (Gr. 3–7): Omakayas and her extended family travel across what is now northern Minnesota because of the encroachment of white settlers. The time is 1852, and the small group faces a hard journey. Two of them are kidnapped, and most of the group’s belongings are stolen. Because of this, they face starvation. Omakayas receives a vision from the bear woman, her helper. “‘I must take one of you,’ she said, ‘but the rest I will allow to live.’” Fans of the previous books—The Birchbark House (1999) and The Game of Silence (2005)—will be surprised at which character doesn’t survive. There are many Ojibwe names and terms in the story, and a glossary and pronunciation guide are included.
10-Minute Selection: Read most of Chapter 2, “Porcupine Soup,” beginning with the sentences “‘Puuu, hiyn! You stink!’ She rolled away from him toward the crack of light under the canoe.” Omakayas and her brother Pinch have become separated from the others. They are hungry and try to catch a baby porcupine for food. The surprised porcupine bounces off Pinch’s face. “There were quills in his cheeks and even sticking from the end of his nose.” They decide to spare the porcupine’s life. Pinch states, “This will be my medicine animal.” He renames himself Quill. The chapter ends with the porcupine settling in Quill’s hair, where “to Omakayas’s amazement, it went to sleep.”
The Great Depression
Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko (Gr. 4–8): In Al Capone Does My Shirts (2004), the famous gangster does young narrator Moose a favor. In the sequel, Capone wants the favor returned. Moose wrestles with his conscience: should he help the notorious criminal? Moose and some of the other Alcatraz kids find themselves in the middle of an escape attempt. The story centers on the families that worked and lived on Alcatraz Island during the 1930s.
10-Minute Selection: Read the first part of the opening chapter, “The Cream of the Criminal Crop.” Moose recounts the previous story of how Al Capone somehow got Moose’s sister into a special school. Moose learned about this when he received a note from Capone in the family laundry. It read “Done.” End with the sentence “I never even met Al Capone . . . why would he help me?” Move on to Chapter 2, “The Secret Passageway,” beginning with the sentence “Annie props open the screen door with her foot.” Annie informs Moose that he received another note from Capone. This one reads, “Your turn.” End with the sentence “‘Thanks, Annie, that makes me feel great,’ I whisper.” Finally, move to Chapter 6, “What Capone Wants.” Begin with the sentence “That night when I climb into bed I feel really great for the first time in a long while.” The chapter ends a few paragraphs later with Moose finding yet another note from Capone.
Revenge of the Cheerleaders by Janette Rallison (Gr. 6–9): Cheerleader Chelsea enters the High School Idol audition after learning that Rick Debrock is also entering. Rick has written a not-so-flattering song about Chelsea titled “Dangerously Blonde.” “She’ll wink at you, but / Only if you’re cool / Yeah, she knows what she needs to be, / It’s all about pop-u-lar-ity.” Rick also happens to be dating Chelsea’s younger sister, Adrian. Chelsea becomes attracted to a college student named Tanner, but things become even more complicated when Tanner turns out to be Rick’s older brother. Chelsea and her friends first appeared in All’s Fair in Love, War, and High School (2003).
10-Minute Selection: Read most of Chapter 2 beginning with the line “We walked inside the building and followed the noise up the stairs.” Chelsea, dressed like an angel for Halloween, is looking for her sister Adrian, who is dressed as a witch. She assumes Adrian is at a campus fundraiser where Rick’s band is playing. Rick recognizes Chelsea from the stage. “Chels . . . what says Halloween better than a giant anemic butterfly? . . . Anybody got a jumbo-sized can of Raid?” Chelsea spots a witch and, after a disruptive chase, learns she has the wrong person. The chapter ends with Chelsea discovering her sister wasn’t even at the fundraiser.
Rob Reid is the author of two picture books and 10 resource books for librarians, teachers, and parents. He is currently working on a companion book to Reid’s Read-Alouds: Selections for Children and Teens (2009). Visit Rob at www.rapnrob.com.
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