An entertaining start to a new series, perfect for 3rd and 4th graders. The best part: readers are taught how to execute some very cool magic tricks!An entertaining start to a new series, perfect for 3rd and 4th graders. The best part: readers are taught how to execute some very cool magic tricks! (Ask me to make a coin disappear...)
The story here centers around a high energy kid (Mike) who struggles with organizational and time management issues. While the term "ADHD" never appears in the book, that's clearly what's happening here. Kids with similar wiring may see themselves and their frustrations with traditional schooling reflected on these pages, as might kids who are being bullied. Mike is routinely picked on by a classmate (Jackson). Learning to perform magic is what eventually gives him the courage to stand up for himself. BUT, possibly because he does it through trickery, the situation doesn't end - it escalates.
This element is left unresolved at the end of the story, suggesting that the bully will continue to play a key role in future books, but readers should still be satisfied. They'll feel good about the confidence that Mike has gained, the ground he has gained in his so-called battle, and several hints that he has real, legitimate magic on his side.
Pair this light and entertaining story with The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick....more
Really? Five stars? I'm giving this book five stars?? Indeed I am. Is it better than the other Invisible Inkling books, to which I gave each FOUR starReally? Five stars? I'm giving this book five stars?? Indeed I am. Is it better than the other Invisible Inkling books, to which I gave each FOUR stars? Errrrm... Yes. Maybe. I don't know. I liked those too. Possibly even five stars-worth.
Here's the deal: I read all three of these books at some point over the course of the last year, and I loved each one. But this last one? While I was reading it I got that warm, sappy "WOW, do I love this series" feeling, which is a rare and wonderful thing. I felt real concern (albeit entertained concern) for this weird, nerdy kid and his invisible pet Bandapat. Maybe it's because I'd already read two other books, and I was therefore "predisposed" to like this one more. Maybe I've just built up enough history with Hank and Inkling to care about them right out of the gate - I don't know.
But one particular passage of this book made me laugh out loud. On the subway. In front of other people. And when I read that same passage (pp. 26-27) out loud to a coworker who hadn't read ANY books in the series, it made HER laugh out loud too. Plus, the book is smart. WOW is it smart. It's smart and sensitive and funny and deeply understanding of kids' emotional needs and bewildering social dilemmas.
This is a book that touches on problems everyone has faced at some point in their lives. No, no, no! Not the "my dad owns an ice cream parlor and the lady with the ice cream whoopie pies is stealing his business" problem. Nor the "I have an invisible -- NOT imaginary! -- pet that no one can see and therefore can't know about" problem. I'm talking about "is this person a true, reliable friend or not?" problems. And "If they're NOT really a true, reliable friend, why do I want them to like me so much?" problems.
Most chapter books skate over territory like this, but not Emily Jenkins. She tackles them head on, AND with absurd humor, which is the perfect way to speak to the age group they're intended for (and to ME, apparently).
SO... YES! I am declaring the third book in the Invisible Inkling series to be worthy of five stars. If you read it and disagree, go back and read the first two, THEN read this one again -- see if having that experience changes your mind. If that doesn't do the trick, read the books aloud to a kid in your life. THAT, I predict, will make you a believer. (And to my mind it's the one litmus test that really matters!)...more
Can you come of age as a second grader? Yes -- in small but meaningful ways. Kevin Henkes captures a perfect handful of them in this heartwarming andCan you come of age as a second grader? Yes -- in small but meaningful ways. Kevin Henkes captures a perfect handful of them in this heartwarming and utterly wonderful book about a boy named Billy Miller who has normal kid worries as he starts (and, some months later, ends) his second grade year. He worries maybe he's not smart enough for the second grade. He worries that his teacher doesn't know he's a nice kid. But he hopes a lot too -- hopes he can succeed at staying up all night for the first time ever; hopes he can help his dad get back to making art again; hopes he can WOW his mom with the poem he writes about her.
This is an honest but hopeful book about a kid's early experiences with taking responsibility, experiencing peer pressure, and seeing his ideas become complex and USEFUL enough to inspire not just kids but grown-ups. The events that inspire Billy's growth in these areas are what adults like to think of as "small moments" but to Billy Miller, as to ANY second grader, these things feel BIG -- big enough to make the whole year feel like it could just be "the year of Billy Miller."
Kids and adults will both be drawn in by the sensitivity and care of Henkes' characterizations -- as always, he allows the reader to glimpse the private, inner thoughts of a kid whose mind feels wholly familiar and whose small "coming of age" feels, in broad strokes, like a carbon copy of our own.
This is a chapter book that fluent readers will be able to tackle, but I especially fill with glee at the thought of using it as a read-aloud. Either way it is a book worth sharing with all of the second grader(s) in your life - and the 1st and 3rd graders too....more
The world's friendliest doughnut is back and expanding his skinny-armed reach from picture books to chapter books! In this delightfully absurd, charmiThe world's friendliest doughnut is back and expanding his skinny-armed reach from picture books to chapter books! In this delightfully absurd, charmingly offbeat, fully illustrated mystery -- a "Who-Donut" -- Arnie attempts to figure out why Mr. Bing, an accomplished bowler, is rolling gutter balls during the big bowling championship. Kids seeking a straightforward, linear narrative may find this book challenging, as Arnie is a chatty, easily distracted host and the central plotline is almost secondary to his random asides, but that's part of the book's charm. You never quite know where Arnie is taking you, but his company is so good (and his jokes so adorably bad) that you're happy to sit back and enjoy the ride. Fans of silly jokes and witty wordplay and/or fans of quirky illustrated chapter books like Fashion Kitty, Bad Kitty, and Captain Underpants will devour this one. (SORRY, Arnie!! I meant your book! They'll devour your BOOK! Metaphorically!! *whew*)