Nick and Maxine live in a tall apartment building. One day they discover a little house in a secret backyard – the home of Mrs. Noodlekugel, where cats talk and mice wear glasses. I find the writing stilted and hard to read aloud; the lack of contractions is particularly annoying. However, my preschooler enjoyed the read aloud.

These sweet and funny books are worth a try for young advanced readers, but will likely feel babyish to older readers.  They almost feel like Dick and Jane books, in a longer form. (3 books in the series)

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series, by Betty McDonald

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s late husband was a pirate, and her backyard is full of hidden treasure. Children love her, but so do their parents – because she uses magic to solve common kid “ailments” – like refusing to take a bath, backtalk, and dawdling. This classic series may feel a bit dated to today’s kids, but I suspect that many young readers will still enjoy them. The first three books were published in the 40’s and 50’s. Her daughter published the final book in 2007. (4 books in the series)

MVP series, by David A. Kelly

If kids enjoy the Ballpark Mysteries, they should check out this series by the same author. It features a group of kids at an elementary school that have adventures and mysteries as they play different sports. This is a good choice for older, struggling readers. (Currently 4 books in the series)

My Happy Life series, by Rose Lagercrantz
This is a lovely series translated from Swedish. Charming black and white illustrations accompany stories about Dani, a second grader who lives with her widowed father and faces the ups and downs of everyday life. The books are deceptively simple but are actually quite profound. (Books include My Happy Life, My Heart is Laughing, When I am Happiest, Life According to Dani, See You When I see You, and Where Dani Goes, Happy Follows).

My Weirder School series, by Dan Gutman

I wish I could recommend this popular series, but it was quite disappointing. The main character “hates” practically everything (including school), and the books are full of name-calling, potty talk, negativity, and mean-spirited humor. Many kids will enjoy this series; you’ll have to decide if you want to feed that by filling your shelves with them.  I definitely don’t recommend them for young advanced readers. (12 books in the series)