The 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards for Books for Beginning Readers

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Don't Throw It to Mo! - The 2016 Geisel Award Winner

Don't Throw It To Mo! - cover of Level 2 book for beginning readers
Don't Throw It to Mo!, Level 2. Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)

The 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner Don't Throw It to Mo! and the three Honor Books are all excellent books for beginning readers. As you'll note from the descriptions, not all good books for new readers are beginning reader books; two of the 2016 Honor Books are picture books.

Don't Throw It to Mo! - 2016 Geisel Award Winner

Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler is a Penguin Young Readers Level 2 (Progressing Reader) beginning reader book. With colorful illustrations by Sam Ricks, an entertaining football-related story, and a diverse group of characters, it's not surprising Don’t Throw It to Mo! is the 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Winner.

Mo is the youngest and smallest boy on the Robins football team, but he practices hard at football practice, and Coach Steve has a special plan for Mo.  With an emphasis on  action, Don’t Throw It to Mo! is the story of how Mo becomes a football hero because of his coach's clever strategy when the Robins are at risk of losing a game to a rival team, the Jays.

The Jays players tease Mo because of his size , saying "He's too small to play" and call him "butterfingers" when they see him drop a football before the game, not realizing Mo is practicing catching a butter-coated football. Coach Steve's strategy is based on the other team underestimating what Mo can do.

The Robins are losing, and it's time for Coach Steve to have Mo get off the bench and into the game. The coach tells his players "Don't Throw It to Mo!" several times until the other team thinks they don't even need to cover Mo. When Coach Steve finally says, "This time, throw it to Mo," the other team is unprepared and Mo makes the winning touchdown.  When Mo tells Coach Steve his plan won the game, the coach tells him, "You won the game."

With its sports theme, action, illustrations that add to the excitement and the triumphant ending,  Don’t Throw It to Mo! has a lot to offer young readers in terms of enjoyment. Large type, repetition, clear context clues and careful design make Don’t Throw It to Mo! an excellent choice for beginning readers ages 6-7.

(Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2015. Hardcover ISBN:, Paperback ISBN:)

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A Pig, a Fox, and a Box - 2016 Geisel Honor Book

A Pig, A Fox, and a Box - cover of level 2 book for beginning readers
A Pig, a Fox, and a Box - 2016 Geisel Honor Book. Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA)

Summary of A Pig, a Fox, and a Box, A 2016 Geisel Honor Book

A Pig, a Fox, and a Box, written and illustrated by Jonathan Fenske, is 32 pages of fun for the beginning reader. The book contains three stories, each involving Pig and Fox pranks and high jinks involving the cardboard box. Fenske's comic art will enhance young readers' enjoyment of the stories. The publisher recommends A Pig, a Fox, and a Box, a Penguin Young Readers Level 2 (Progressing Reader) book, for six and seven year old readers.

With longer sentences and a more involved plot than Level 1 (Emergent Reader) books, the amusing illustrations and the context clues they provide, as well as the humorous stories, will get, and keep, young readers engaged and eager to read all the stories in A Pig, a Fox, and a Box.

(Penguin Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2015. Hardcover ISBN: 9780448485119, Paperback ISBN: 9780448485102)

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Supertruck - 2016 Geisel Honor Book

Supertruck - cover of 2016 Geisel Honor Book for beginning readers
Supertruck by Stephen Savage - 2016 Geisel Honor Book. Roaring Brook Press

Summary of Supertruck, A 2016 Geisel Honor Book

The picture book Supertruck, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage, features crisp digital art and an engaging story. While the city is full of brave trucks, like the fire truck and the tow truck, it is the humble garbage truck who saves the day when a terrible blizzard buries the city with snow.

All the brave trucks are caught in the storm. Who can save them? Supertruck, that's who. Who is Supertruck? While the brave trucks can't figure that out, readers know that the garbage truck becomes Supertruck when a plow is added to its front. Then, Supertruck plows the city streets and rescue all of the trucks that are stuck.

With large type, illustrations that provide simple context clues, and just a sentence or two on every double-page spread, Supertruck is definitely a beginning reader-friendly book.

(Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, 2015. Hardcover ISBN: 9781596438217, also available in several e-book editions)

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Waiting - 2016 Geisel Honor Book

Waiting by Kevin Henkes - picture book cover
Waiting - Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2015. Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins

Waiting, A 2016 Geisel Honor Book and More

Waiting by Kevin Henkes is both a 2016 Geisel Honor Book and a 2016 Caldecott Honor Book (for picture book illustration). Waiting is also on my personal list of the Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2015. With its gentle tone, appealing illustrations and limited text, this picture book is also a beginning reader-friendly book. For more information, see my overview of Waiting.

(Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015. Hardcover ISBN: 9780062368430)