Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Review: Marty McGuire

Marty McGuire
Marty McGuire
by Kate Messner (illus. Brian Floca)
Scholastic Press, Publisher (2011)
Ages: 5-9
Review Copy provided by the publisher


(Summary from  Marty McGuire would rather spend recess catching frogs in the pond than playing dress-up with the other girls in third grade. So when her teacher casts Marty as the princess in the class play, Marty's absolutely, positively sure that there's been a huge mistake. But after a special lesson in the art of improvisation, Marty comes up with her OWN plan to IMPROVE the play: Why use stuffed-animal frog onstage when a live one would be so much better? In the end, Marty's one-of-a-kind performance makes for an unforgettable show. Maybe Marty CAN live happily ever after, after all!

If you haven't read anything by Kate Messner yet you really need to! I absolutely LOVED her two middle grade novels, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z and Sugar and Ice.  What I love most about Kate's writing, besides the fantastic story lines, is her ability to create strong girl characters that young readers can not only relate to but also, hopefully, emulate.  I was thrilled to once again find that type of character her new early chapter book series, Marty McGuire

Marty is a  spunky third grade girl! Following in the foot steps of equally spunky characters like Ramona and Clementine, she's a girl who knows what she likes.  From the opening chapter where she says  "I'd call Veronica Grace Princess-Bossy Pants if I was allowed to call people names.  But I'm not. So I won't."  her voice rings true.  She's funny and full of energy without coming across as annoying.  I also love the caring, supportive adults that surround Marty in the story. One of my favorite lines is when her teacher, Mrs. Aloi, who is explaining to Marty  why she would make the "perfect" princess in the class play,  reminds her that she's..."somebody with a lot of talent and confidence.  Somebody with a strong voice and lots of energy.  Somebody who is brave and smart who can think on her feet."  And she is all that and more!  I love that in the end, Marty is true to herself.

A perfect read aloud, this book also fills the need for readers who are ready to move into more advanced chapter books for independent reading.  The storyline deals with great issues like friendships, commitment, and taking chances on new things in a realistic, believable way.   I can't for Kate's next installment, Marty McGuire Digs Worms! which is due out in February, 2012.

Read what others are saying about this GREAT series:
Kid Lit Frenzy
Random Chalk Talk
The Cath in the Hat

For more information about Kate Messner visit her website:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Review: Perfect Square

Perfect SquarePerfect Square
by Michael Hall
Greenwillow Books, Publisher
Ages 2-7
Review copy purchased for my classroom library

Publisher's Summary:  A perfect square is transformed in this adventure story that will transport you far beyond the four equal sides of this square book.

"Perfect" is the perfect word to describe Michael Hall's newest picture book.  The perfect square start out perfectly happy being a square on Sunday.  But on Monday when the perfect square finds itself cut up and hole punched, it doesn't get down in the dumps! Oh no! Instead it makes the best of the situation and becomes a beautiful fountain. The week continues to bring new challenges until Sunday comes again and it realizes it's not happy just being a "perfect" square.  The ending, which relates to beginning, concludes with a wonderful surprise!

I fell in love on the very first read through.  Filled with whimsy and imagination, children will easily be drawn in to the story of how this perfect square changes itself into something new and surprising each day of the week.  Hall uses brief text to allow the geometric shapes and bold colors of his illustrations to tell the story.  When it comes to concept books, this one is jam packed with possibilities including shapes, colors, and days of the week. Offer readers the opportunity to transform their own perfect square of colorful paper by cutting, ripping, wrinkling, pasting, and punching holes to create an adapted classroom version.  This story is sure to become a classroom favorite! If you like this one then be sure to also check out My Heart is Like a Zoo, also by Michael Hall.

Don't just take my word for it! Read what other's are saying about this fantastic book:

The Page Turn
There's a Book
A Fuse #8 Production
Brimful Curiosities