Battle of the Bad-Breath Bats

HarperCollins/Harper. (13th Street: Bk. 1). Jul. 2020. 96p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780062947802; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780062947796.
Gr 1-5–Malia and her two cousins are spending the summer with Aunt Lucy in Gulf City. On the way to the local water park, the kids take a “shortcut” down a creepy street that does not show up on Malia’s phone map. On spooky 13th Street, they meet giant bats with evil intentions. In a plot reminiscent of a video game, the cousins must rely on friendly monster allies as they use their wits to battle and defeat the Snatch Bats. Will our heroes escape 13th Street or will they be overpowered by this larger-than-life enemy? The third series to be released in the new HarperChapters line, this book speaks to kids who enjoy a scare. This early readers’ program has a Guided Reading Level of L/M, making it perfect for children just transitioning to chapter books as well as older reluctant readers. The book, under 100 pages, uses large type and margins. It features milestone markers to encourage readers to keep going, related activities, and comic-like illustrations with some color on every spread. Featuring a Mexican American cast, Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the narrative, easily defined by context clues. The story contains frightening elements, but it’s not the stuff of nightmares; it strikes just the right balance for the target audience.
VERDICT From the enticing cover to the cliff-hanger chapter endings, this series is meant to encourage reading and boost confidence and skills.

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