Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Milla Takes Charge (Daring Dreamers Club #1)

Soderberg, Erin. Milla Takes Charge (Daring Dreamers Club #1)
June 5th 2018 by Random House Disney
Copy provided by publisher

Milla is ready to have a great fifth grade year. She loves to write stories about adventures, hang out with her moms, and play with her pet pig, Chocolate Chip, who helps storyboard her stories. Things look good at school, especially with advisory period, for whom Milla's has a new teacher, Ms. Bancroft. Ms. Bancroft wears fun clothes and has quotations from Disney princesses all over her room. When she has to write in a journal about which princess she is most like, she chooses Belle because of their shared loved of books and reading. It's fun getting to know the other girls, including Piper, who loves to cook, Ruby, who is a soccer fanatic, Zahra who loves sewing and fashion design, and Mariana, who is supposed to love swimming like the rest of her siblings, but isn't quite sure. Milla is looking forward to the fifth-grade overnight trip, but she's not entirely sure if her moms will let her go. In addition to very serious nut and dairy allergies, Milla was attacked by a dog when she was young, which resulted in a scar on her cheek and a lot of overprotective attitudes from her mothers! They are also both very busy, so it's hard for Milla to find a time to sit down and ask about going. In order to make them more amenable to the idea, Milla tries to prove that she is really responsible, but her ideas, like taking her pet to school, all seem to back fire. As the deadline approaches and the other girls in her advisory make plans for the trip, Milla has to figure out a way that she can get permission to go on her first actual adventure!

This first book in a planned series with books focusing on each of the girls does a nice job of describing the school, the fantastic Ms. Bancroft, and the personalities and interests of each of the characters. It's hard to create five distinct types that I can keep straight, but the girls all have different enough interests and family backgrounds that they were very easy to identify. Younger readers will also be able to understand more about the girls' interests based on the princesses with whom the girls identify. A surprisingly effective character is Chocolate Chip, whose presence gives Milla opportunity to talk about pet rescue and how some pets require a lot of care. My daughter always wanted a teacup pig, but I didn't realize that the only way to keep them very small is to underfeed them!

It's always good to read about middle grade characters with particular interests and passions, and the Daring Dreamers certainly have these. Piper is particularly nice about keeping Milla's dietary restrictions in mind, and it's good to see that Mariana still hasn't decided what her passion is. There are never enough books about soccer, so I'm looking forward to the volume with Ruby. I would have preferred some more science of technology related interests, or even something along the lines of engineering or building. While the princess theme is really well done when it comes to encouraging the girls to be active and work toward their passions, there are a lot of books about girls who want to write and sew, so having Milla want to be an actuary would have been a lot fresher!

There can never be enough ensemble books about girls who do different activities with their friends, and The Daring Dreamers Club is a great addition to books like Kimmel's Forever Four, Simon's The Cupcake Diaries, Greenwald's Sweet Treats and Secret Crushes, Margolis's Maggie Brooklyn Mysteries,  or Deutsch's The Friendship Code.

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