First grade has been a game changer for my son; between August and now, he’s developed so much confidence and has really turned into a mature little boy. He’s also gone from reading Dr. Seuss to big-kid chapter books… and he can’t read enough. There are a lot of early reader books out there, and they’re not all the same; I’ve made it my mission to find great authors and series for us to read. Some of our favorites include: Kung Pow Chicken, The Notebook of Doom, The Princess in Black, Galaxy Zack! and The Bad Guys.
We particularly love anything by Scholastic, so I was very excited to see the new Peachy and Keen series by Jason Tharp. With bold illustrations, memorable characters and a sweet story, Tharp’s Peachy and Keen is a purr-fect new series for young readers!
We actually met Tharp a few years ago when the Scholastic Bus stopped by blue manatee. While there, we picked up Tharp’s Super Monsta Friends activity books, both of which Julian absolutely loved and completed every single page. (Julian also chatted Tharp up that afternoon, and he proved to be the coolest children’s book author ever, boasting an arm full of tattoos, gigantic smile and great sense of humor while my then-five-year-old talked his ear off.)
Tharp’s brand-new Peachy and Keen series follows bffs Peachy, a go-getter kitty, and Keen, a lovable and supportive dinosaur-costume-wearing pup. The series’ first book, A School Tail, is the story of how this dynamic duo starts their own school magazine – Purrfect9 – in response to the cancellation of the school’s newspaper. As the magazine takes off, things get tense between the two, and A School Tail is about how Peachy and Keen work through those problems to come together at the end.
What you’ll immediately notice about this book are the illustrations. Tharp is a fantastic illustrator, creating bold and memorable characters kids will love. Peachy and Keen has illustrations on every page, which makes for a fun reading experience for both 7-year-olds (and their moms!). However, what makes Peachy and Keen truly fantastic are the titular friends – Tharp has created a pair of talking animals in whom readers will see themselves.
In fact, Julian said his favorite part about the book were the characters; he loved that it was a school full of talking animals! He also enjoyed all the puns and wordplay, which are necessary in a book geared toward 7-9 year olds. And as a fellow artist, he was really inspired by Tharp’s illustrations.
The only complaint I have about Peachy and Keen? Because it’s a new series, the next two books aren’t available yet! The second book in the series, Spirit Week Showdown, comes out April 25th and features Gertie the unicorn (what kid doesn’t like unicorns?); the third, The Haunted Halls, releases July 31st. I’ve already pre-ordered both from Amazon, as both Julian and I are excited to see what adventures lie ahead for Peachy and Keen. If you have an early reader in your house, do yourself a favor and check out Tharp’s new series, which offers a refreshing change-of-pace from the other early-reader options on the bookshelf.