Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens

March 9, 2009

bestfriends1The third installment in Meg Cabot‘s new series comes out today!  Luckily for me, last month I won an ARC for Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens and got to read it early (and then got to have it autographed by Meg when I met her at her signing at Anderson’s Bookshop and the Children’s Literature Breakfast).

I quickly read the first two, Moving Day and The New Girl, and loved them both.  After reading Best Friends and Drama Queens, I concluded that it’s even better.   In this one, a new girl from Canada comes to Allie’s new school and disrupts everything by chasing boys at recess.  Pretty soon she has declared Allie and her friends immature for not wanting to “go with” boys.  Allie tries her best to handle the mean things Cheyenne says, but suddenly it seems too much to take.

Allie is a fantastic character.  She’s so full of spunk and independence and throughout all three books, she writes down rules to help her get through everything.  Some of my favorites:  Don’t stick a spatula down your best friend’s throat, Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good, Treat your friends the way you’d want them to treat you, and It’s impolite not to bump someone’s fist when they are fist-bumping you.

I highly recommend the series, especially for fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, or Clementine!  Allie definitely belongs in their “Spunky Girls” club!

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Molly McGinty Has a Really Bad Day

January 3, 2009

Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day

In this book by Gary Paulsen, Molly, a sixth grader, has a seemingly bad day.  She’s lost her notebook, which she cannot live without because it keeps her life in order; her eccentric grandmother is coming to school with her; she gets a black eye before school; etc.  Molly’s grandmother is very popular and wins over everyone at school, much to Molly’s horror.  She would must rather have her head buried in her lost notebook and let school continue the way it usually does where she is basically left alone except for the Marys, her three closest friends.

Molly endures a lot during her day, so it’s not hard to see why she’d be in a bad mood.  BUT she never started with a good one.  She sees the negative in everything.  She knows her grandmother’s coming to school is going to be a disaster, she doesn’t want to get to know the detention kids her grandmother befriends, and she would rather learn about the US government than about how government and baseball compare.  Eventually, though, after speaking with her grandmother, she quickly (perhaps too quickly?) realizes her bad day was actually really good.  We’re left assuming Molly will be less uptight from now on.

You may have done a double take when you saw the author was Gary Paulsen.  I did.  He has a forward at the beginning of the book explaining that most of his books have had boys as main characters, but since half of all stories come from girls, this story is about a girl.  Because this note was at the beginning, I couldn’t help but look for instances where Molly’s perspective didn’t seem very girl-like.  I would have prefered the note at the end, where it wouldn’t have distracted me from the story.


Clementine’s Letter

December 24, 2008

So far in Sara Pennypacker’s Clementine series there are three books:  Clementine, The Talented Clementine, and Clementine’s Letter.  I wasn’t that crazy about Clementine, but I have thoroughly enjoyed The Talented Clementine, which I read a few days ago, and Clementine’s Letter, which I finished tonight.  She is a clever, spunky, young girl, who cannot help getting into all kinds of trouble, even though most of the time her intentions are good.  The books are very funny with the various situations Clementine gets herself into.  In the latest, she has trouble at school adjusting to a substitute teacher and the idea that her regular teacher may not be there for the rest of the year.

One of the best parts of the whole series is the various nicknames Clementine uses for her baby brother.  Since she was given a food name, she thinks her brother should have one too.  Every time she refers to him, she has a new vegetable nickname:  Squash, Water Chestnut, Spinach, Scallion, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Broccoli, etc.  I’m not sure his real name is ever used in any of the books.  That’s just a taste of how amusing these books are.  I highly recommend them especially to fans of Judy Moody by Megan McDonald, another great middle reader series.


Judy Moody

April 22, 2008

The first book in this series by Megan McDonald begins as Judy is about to enter the third grade. She is a typical third-grader, who lives with her family in Washington, D.C. She has an annoying little brother nicknamed Stink, a best friend named Rocky, and a few classmates she would rather not talk to. Judy’s last name is Moody, which suits her as she is often in a bad mood “…or something.” Judy is sarcastic, excitable, and creative. Kids reading the books should not have a hard time identifying with her. The books are extremely fun to read. I really enjoy them. You can see a taste of McDonald’s fun writing style from the cover of the first book that says “Judy Moody was in a mood. Not a good mood. A bad mood.”

Judy Moody is an extremely fascinating and fun character to read. So far there are seven books in the Judy Moody series. Since they are short chapter books, they are perfect for transitional readers…or older ages looking for a fun, quick read.


My Name Is Yoon

March 30, 2008

This past week in Resources for Children class was devoted to multicultural books. In My Name Is Yoon, Helen Recorvits introduces readers to a young Korean girl who recently moved to the United States with her parents. I really enjoyed this cute story about fitting in to a new culture. Yoon does not enjoy American school at first and prefers to write her name in Korean, not English. Ultimately, she opens up to being in a new place and learning a new culture.

Yoon is also the main character in another book by Recorvits: Yoon and the Christmas Mitten. This is another story about how Yoon deals with fitting in. Both Yoon books are nice ways to introduce young readers to another culture without immersing them too much and losing them.


The Arrival

March 5, 2008

Of the 25 children’s books I read for Resources for Children this week, The Arrival by Shaun Tan was my favorite. As soon as I figure out where Barnes and Noble shelves it, I’ll own a copy. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel; the story of a father and husband traveling to a foreign place to make a better life for his family is told through beautiful sepia pencil drawings. Tan alternates between large drawings and series of smaller “film strip”-like images to capture the feeling of alienation, confusion, and longing.

Although The Arrival is essentially a picture book, the concept and subtle detail of the drawings may be best for slightly older ages. Since its publication in 2007, it has already received numerous honors, including New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2007, Horn Book Fanfare Book of 2007, and ALA’s Notable Children’s Book of 2008.

Rating (out of 5): 5+