Monday, February 25, 2019

Winter Reading 2019 The Chestnut Challenge

Fans of The Nocturnals and their leveled reader series will easily recognize Dawn, Tobin, and Bismark. But who is this new character with them on the cover of the book? That is Chandler, a "conniving chinchilla." When he finds the friends playing Chestnut checkers, Chandler announces that he is the "real chestnut champion" and challenges Tobin to a game. The mild-mannered pangolin enjoys playing for fun, not competition. He reluctantly agrees to play this new acquaintance, but something underhanded is happening during the game. Will the Nocturnals figure out what is happening?

Each of these stories has a gentle lesson to learn about friendship, acceptance, or sportsmanship. Reading about the friends and their adventures is an entertaining way to learn  how to get along with others. Who wouldn't be amused by Bismark's dramatic reactions? "Chirping chickadees!" he shouts when he loses the game. And after all his boasting, he is the one who points out that Chandler "seems a bit braggy." (Takes one to know one, right?) Dawn is always calm and gentle in her reminders about proper behavior, while Tobin truly just wants everyone to have a good time together.

Back matter includes facts about each animal, what it means to be nocturnal, and a description of chestnuts. There are also printable activities to download at If you haven't met these friends yet, be sure to check out the entire series - and there are chapter books for independent readers, too.

I had the chance to spend some time with author Tracey Hecht and the Fabled Films gang at ALA MW 2019. They even had a plush model of Bismark in their booth!

The Chestnut Champion goes on sale April 23, 2019.

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