Thursday, May 3, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken, by Sally Warner, 108 pages.

Meet eight-year-old Ellray Jakes.
Ellray is the shortest student in his grade 3 class, but he has a “big personality” and lots of determination and spirit.
Lately, though, he hasn’t been having an easy time. The biggest kid in the class,  Jared, and his best friend Stanley, have been bullying him on the playground and in the classroom when the teacher’s back is turned. They are determined to get Ellray into trouble – the more, the better – and often, they are successful.
But now Ellray is resolved to stay out of trouble, no matter what. Why? His dad has promised that the family will visit Disneyland if Ellray behaves himself at school.
It isn’t easy. Ellray hasn’t told his parents or his teacher about the bullying, knowing that if he did, the situation would likely worsen. And just when it’s so important for Ellray to behave himself, it seems that Jared is more set than ever to instigate trouble for which Ellray will be blamed.
When things are resolved – in a satisfactory but surprising way, Ellray learns that there has been a reason for Jared’s behaviour, for which Ellray has been partially responsible.
Ellray Jakes is Not a Chicken provides an interesting “take” on the issue of bullying. It’s one book in a new series (about Ellray) that would appeal to children – especially boys – who are just beginning to read chapter books.
** Recommended for ages 7 to 10 years.
Martin Bridge Onwards and Upwards, by Jessica Scott Kerrin, 111 pages.

The Martin Bridge series by Jessica Scott Kerrin is another excellent choice for beginning chapter book readers.
The series has been described as “wholesome” and “refreshing”. Featuring an appealing protagonist, Martin Bridge, the stories are “slice-of-life” adventures in the life of a young boy at home and at school.
In Martin Bridge Onwards and Upwards, Martin’s summer vacation has a rather lonely start when his two best friends are grounded for accidentally damaging an ice cream truck. His mother has a new electronic keyboard, and it seems (to Martin) that she’s always practising on it, with no time for anything or anyone else. Then Laila Moffat – a keener and a know-it-all – joins the Junior Badgers and competes with Martin for badges.
Eventually, Martin learns how to deal with each of these situations, and with his feelings and reactions.
The Martin Bridge stories are entirely realistic and often humorous. In a light-hearted, appealing fashion, they deal with normal, everyday emotions, helping young readers “to recognize and accept our less-than-perfect selves”, while at the same time showing how we can help and improve ourselves too.
** Recommended for ages 7 to 10 years.
NOTE: Meet the author of the Martin Bridge stories, Jessica Scott Kerrin, who will visit the Stratford Public Library on Tuesday May 8 at 9:30 am (library auditorium) during Canadian Children’s Book Week (May 5-12). Her presentation will be free of charge and everyone is welcome.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on May 3, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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