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Courier & Press Article by Carol Cariens
Sunday, July 8, 2012

New in Kids' Series Fiction: Dogs, Sleuthing, Heroics

Seriously.  Let's get serious about series.  We love 'em, don't we?  It's a happy day indeed when the newest volume in our favorite series is ready for us at the library.    Kids are no different, you know.  They love series fiction, too.  In fact, children's book series are big business.  BIG business.  Think "Harry Potter".  Think "Percy Jackson and the Olympians".  Think "The Hunger Games".  Think "The 39 Clues".  And on and on and on, ad infinitum!  There are some other children's series out there—not mega-blockbusters, mind you—but good reads that kids (and their parents, too!) might like to try.  Here are two examples.

Anybody out there in the reading audience like John Grisham's legal thrillers?  Umm, thought so.  Grisham is now venturing into the lucrative 'tween audience with his "Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer" series.  Theo is the child of lawyers.  He's bright, he knows a lot about the mechanics of the legal system—and he's only thirteen!  Sometimes knowing too much can get a person into big trouble and Theo finds that out only too well in his first adventure.  I like the relationship between Theo and his parents.  Its still parents and child but they respect his knowledge and allow him to help his friends with problems while providing definite parameters of what he can and can't do.  Good for them.  Follow Theo through three published books (so far).  You won't be surprised to know that adults are reading these just as much as kids.

Everybody loves a good dog story so who could resist the "J.J. Tully Mysteries" by veteran children's author, Doreen Cronin?  J.J. is a retired search-and-rescue dog living out his leisure years on the farm of his trainer, Barb.  Life of leisure?   Not quite.  In "The Trouble with Chickens" J.J. is hired by Millicent, the mother hen, to track down her missing chicks.  J.J.'s pay for this bucolic rescue?  One cheeseburger.  Well done.  With tongue-in-cheek humor and a nod toward film noir's hard-boiled gumshoes, J.J. meets Vince the Funnel who just might know more than he is telling about the missing poultry.  Vince the Funnel?  You have to see illustrator Kevin Cornell's artwork for yourself.  This feather-brained comedy is for anyone.  Don't miss "The Legend of Diamond Lil", starring J.J.'s new neighbor, a beautiful Samoyed.  Millicent and her chicks as well as Vince the Funnel are back for more doggone fun, too.

And, as they say in the newsroom...stand by for some late-breaking news....Here are some updates about other favorite series. 

"Fancy Nancy", the brain child of Jane O'Connor is growing up.  Long a favorite with the picture book and easy reader set, Nancy Clancy is now starring in her own chapter book series, "Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth."  In Book One of the series, Nancy and her bejeweled magnifying glass are on the case when a teacher's prized possession goes missing.  One thing for sure this detective diva will always be well-dressed, thanks to illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser.  Pick a clue and join the fun.

Everybody's favorite tighty-whitey superhero is back for an unprecedented ninth "epic tale".  Yes, folks, "Captain Underpants" is alive and well and returning to those thrilling days of kindergarten in "Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.  Just watch out for that sixth-grade bully, Kipper Krupp, though...or there just might not be a tenth epic novel!  Thanks, Dav Pilkey, for another foray into silliness and comic art. 

Quick now, who are Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden?  If you said "The Boxcar Children" you would be so right.  Although author Gertrude Chandler Warner has long gone to her reward, her enduring—and endearing—series has continued through seventy years!  Seventy years.  Wow.  To celebrate this special anniversary, Albert Whitman & Company will be publishing a prequel to the series, "The Aldens of Fair Meadow Fair".  Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan "...pays loving tribute...in this story of the Alden children's origins and the challenges they faced before their boxcar adventures."  For Boxcar fans old and young.  Don't miss it!  Seriously.