Sunday, November 20, 2016

Books for Younger Readers

28686898McDonald, Medan. Mrs. Moody in The Birthday Jinx
September 6th 2016 by Candlewick
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Judy's mother's birthday never ends well. This year, Judy is determined to make her mother's birthday a success. She instructs her father and brother, Stink, to make nice presents, but these go awry. She encourages her mother to plan a fun activity, but this get derailed when Stick needs a costume for a school play the next day. She even tells her father to make a carrot cake, but this ends up burning, and was made with parsnips to boot. Even though Mrs. Moody's successful celebration is limited to a short nap, she appreciates all of Judy's work, and is glad to celebrate her birthday with her family. 

Judy is always an appealing character, and the fact that her life isn't picture perfect puts her in league with Junie B. Jones and Amber Brown. It's encouraging to see that the sadness of recent middle grade books hasn't filtered down this far into the elementary emergent reader set-- while the cake may be burned, no one in Judy's family is dying or in major trouble. It's nice to see the family spending time working on school projects together, and sitting down to dinner together, even if the father's idea for carrot cake frosting involves avocado! 

It's hard to find books for beginning readers that are full of excitement and humor, but McDonald always manages to add both to her books about Judy and Stink. The full color illustrations by Madrid off many visual clues, as well as interest, to the text. Even though there is a series of these, the books don't need to be read in order, which is very helpful when trying to find books in a popular series at the library!

I can remember wanting to make my parents' birthdays special, and young readers who want to make birthday cakes and who have spent quality time with glue and Popsicle sticks will understand Judy's motivation for trying to make her mother's birthday memorable. 

26109092Potter, Giselle. This is My Dollhouse
May 10th 2016 by Schwartz & Wade
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

A young girl has a lot of fun constructing a dollhouse out of cardboard, and cobbling together the family and furnishings. When she goes to her friend Sophie's house, she tries to apply her principles of play to her friends all-new, matching plastic house, but Sophie is unwilling to be flexible with the family and doesn't want to add makeshift parts to the house. The girls abandon playing with the house and go outside instead. When Sophie comes to visit, the girl is embarrassed and tries to hide her house, but when Sophie discovers it, the two spend a delightful afternoon or innovation and discovery. In the end, the girls decides that her house is much more fun. 

This is a good introduction to building a dollhouse, and even comes with instructions on how to do so printed inside the dust jacket. The girl's ideas for additions like a Dixie cup elevator are inspired. Young readers will clamor for boxes of their own to start construction immediately. 

The illustrations are bright and well spaced, and have enough detail that readers will enjoy pointing out objects throughout the story, and using the pages as inspiration for their own houses. The girls' faces are a bit reminiscent of Eloise Wilkin illustrations, with the wide eyes and foreheads. I appreciated the fact that while pink was used, most of the backgrounds were blue or green. 

This is My Dollhouse would make an excellent addition to the library of a reader who has enjoyed Ann M. Martin's The Doll People or any of Rumer Godden's classic tales of dolls. 

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