Let’s face it, easy chapters feature lots of series, and on the whole, these are not known for their amazing quality. There are a few series I do really like, but sometimes, when our kids are in this phase of becoming readers, we need to hold our noses and give them stuff that they want to read until they feel confident enough to move onto better stuff.
For lots of little girls right now, including my own (gah!), that means books about fairies and mythical creatures and magic. So what if you run out of fairy books (ha ha) or your child finally wants to branch out into something similar, but different? This pair of series delivers gentle bits of magic aimed at just the right level. And maybe you can read something a little more substantive together for now to fill the urge to feed them some good stuff!
In these books, a family has moved out to a small town with lots of land around them, and the children discover that there are some strange things going on – magic things. things go a little awry, of course, as things always seem to do when magic is involved, and of course the children keep this from their parents, and just barely manage to set things (mostly) to rights themselves, and just in the nick of time.
It’s pretty standard fare, but the kids are a nice bunch who pull together well, the parents are not bad as parents in kids’ books go (not completely flat characters, and not entirely clueless). In other words, really fantastic books in this reading level are rare, so this is not great, great stuff, but it hits all the right notes for either a boy or girl who is into magic and small adventures without getting into the really treacly territory. I would also suggest that because this can appeal to either boys or girls, it could make for a good early read-aloud with multiple kids, too.
Willa Bean is a spunky little cupid who doesn’t quite fit in with the others. her hair is wild, while theirs is… angelic. her wings are purple and silver, not soft and white. Her pockets and hair are always full of treasures she has found, her dress is often rumpled, and she has a hard time with things like listening and impulse control. Sound like plenty of human heroines in this age range? It does make her a nice change from the sweeter of the magic books, I must say, even if it makes her, as a junior misfit, a common commodity for easy chapter books.
Willa Bean’s adventures are more along the line of common school problems – being the only one in her class who can’t fly in the first book, and finding the solution, and having to overcome fears in the second. The setting among the clouds makes for a change, and will appeal to those really girly girls and fans of fairy and magic books, so it works for its intended audience, overall, even though I must admit to not being a fan of the girly stuff myself.