#2 The Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs / Clubhouse Mysteries books by Sharon Draper
Kyle and Owen love, love, love these books. Of all the chapter book series I’ve read to/with them, this series is my personal favorite. If I were making my own Top Five list, these would definitely be #1 on the list.
I’ll go ahead and make a bold statement here, and I will stand behind it 100%: I think that the children’s section of every library in the country — and definitely every school library — should have this collection. They are amazing books. I just can’t say enough about them. I have come to admire the author, Sharon Draper, in a big, big way (her numerous well-deserved awards and accolades are amazing!), and I can’t wait until Kyle and Owen are old enough to start reading all of her books for teens (check out her website at http://sharondraper.com/books.asp).
When I first discovered the Ziggy/Clubhouse Mysteries books it was very confusing, so I just want to note about that here: These books were originally published with the titles of “Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs.” The covers were illustrated with images of four clearly black boys. But then, at a certain point, the series title was changed to “Clubhouse Mysteries,” and the cover art was all re-done. See the cover images below and note the change. On the left are two examples of the original book covers, which are now out of print; on the right are the re-done book covers which are now for sale. It is a pretty drastic change — look, just for example, at the long locs on Ziggy in the bottom left cover, now missing in the new cover art for the same book:
The “new” books were still published by the same publishing house (Alladin), and had the exact same text, but they were under different titles with different covers. Of course, I don’t know the inside story, but it is a pretty easy guess as to what happened — the publisher and/or the author (my guess is this was probably entirely orchestrated by the publisher) determined that the books would be more marketable to a broader audience if the look/feel/titles were “softened” and made “less black.” Having a little bit of experience with the publishing world myself, it is easy to become very cynical about this stuff. For Kyle and Owen and me, it was hard to see the rebranding of these books, the shift in the appearance of the covers, and the change in the series title. Disappointing, and disturbing. We thought about boycotting them (to protest the re-branding). However, these books are so good (I mean, they are just so, so, so good!), that we stayed loyal, read, and loved them all. Someday I’d love to hear the inside scoop as to what, exactly, happened that resulted in the rebranding. In the meantime, the bottom line is that these books were real page turners for Kyle and Owen. I appreciate how well written, and yet very educational, they all are. In our house, we call these the “Ziggy books” (sticking to the original series title), but in looking for them in your library or online, you might find it easier to search with the current series title “Clubhouse Mysteries.” Either way, and despite this backstory, these are a must-read series of six books:
- The Buried Bones Mystery
- Lost in the Tunnel of Time
- Shadows of Caesar’s Creek
- The Space Mission Adventure
- The Backyard Animal Show
- Stars and Sparks on Stage
This is a stellar series! If you read them, you’ll see exactly what I mean!