When I was teaching, I was always looking for new chapter books to read aloud to my students. I saw Gooseberry Park in a book order one day and thought I'd give it a try. It became an intant favorite and was added to my list of books that I read aloud every year.
Gooseberry Park is by Cynthia Rylant, one of the best children's authors around. It is about a chocolate lab named Kona who lives with his owner, Professor Albert, and a very wise hermit crab named Gwendolen. On his daily walks to the park with Professor Albert, Kona befrinds a squirrel named Stumpy. As the story begins, we find a very pregnant Stumpy moving into a new tree in the park and meeting her "upstairs" neighbor Murray, a very funny bat.
The real excitment begins when a ice storm hits the park and Kona, worried about Stumpy and her new babies, sets off on a dangerous journey to find her. He finds that she is missing and ends up sneaking Murray and the babies into Professor Albert's house, while the friends come up with a plan to find Stumpy.
This is a really sweet story about the unlikely friendship between a group animals. It has excitment, suspense, and lots of laughs thanks to Murray the bat. It's a great to read aloud to primary age kids and is probably about a 3rd or 4th grade level for kids to read it on their own. If you are looking for a new book for your child, this is a super pick. I know 8 classes of first graders who loved it!