Last year my children fell hard for The Mammoth Academy, by Neal Layton. It is a perfect book for the young reader venturing into "real" books-- simple but substantial text, lots of pictures, and a fun story involving a school for mammoths and other prehistoric creatures and their encounter with primitive humans.
So there were excited noises from both of them when I presented them with The Mammoth Academy in Trouble (Henry Holt, 2007 in the UK, 2009 here, early middle grade, 141 pp). In this sequel, we meet again the young mammoths Oscar and Arabella as they arrive at the Academy for a new semester, looking forward to taking part in the Founder's Fiesta! But their spirits are damped by the sinister graffiti on the school walls--"We is gonna git you!!"
The humans are back, and closing in on the school. Inside, preparations for the Fiesta move on apace, but outside winter blizzards are brewing. The students are trapped inside by the fierce snows, and the humans are preparing to attack....
Will Arabella's smarts and Oscar's ingenuity be enough to save the pupils of the Academy from the bellies of the hungry savages?
I love the Mammoth Academy. Here's their science lesson:
"And now, start mixing things in test tubes..."
Fox's test tube turned brown.
Oscar's test tube turned orange.
But Arabella's test tube started to fizz and spit little silver sparks all over the place, finally going POOF! in a cloud of thick green smoke.
"Fascinating!" said Dr. Van Der Graph. "I think you have just made a scientific discovery!" (page 35)
And I love the dance class, where the mammoths are told to "imagine you are tiny feathers floating on the breeze...." (page 37)
Adventure, humor, funny and engrossing drawings, and charming characters...what's not to like. I recommend them very, very, enthusiastically to the five or six year old who loves the Ice Age movies, and the parent reading this out loud, or the older kid just becoming an independent reader of longer books.
There are two more chapter books out in the UK--they would make such lovely Christmas presents for my six year old that I might not be able for them to come out over here. I am also very tempted by another of his books, The Story of Everything...