By Abby Klein, Illustrated by John McKinley
Published by: Scholastic, Inc. (August 1, 2004)
Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review, there were 21 books in the Ready, Freddy! series.
The King of Show-and-Tell is a hoot. A shorter example of a chapter book (under 100 pages), the language is natural and easy, and especially smooth because the children’s dialogue is so real and identifiable. It’s obvious this writer, a former teacher, knows how kids talk and think.
Since the characters are in first grade, and since kids prefer to read about children either their own age or older, this is a good example of an early chapter book. It could be a read aloud to a class or at home, but the simple nature makes it a better fit for kids to pour through by themselves.
I loved the comic devices that are sure to get and keep a reader’s attention: telling the prissy girl about eating worms, joking about grandma going to jail, using a magnifying glass on a special investigation, and pulling one over on Mom and Dad.
Also inviting is the initial prologue. Just a couple of sentences, it lays out the problem the story will work to solve. This is great because it lets kids know where the story is going. And generates excitement.
I found the early illustrations slightly old-school, so much so that I was surprised when I noticed the 2004 publication date. But as the story moves forward and out of the classroom setting, for some reason the illustrations become more contemporary, stylized and reminiscent of the quietly exquisite work of David McPhail.
A great addition is the inclusion of the word “fin” in each illustration. (The main character’s last name is Thresher, so a cool shark theme swims through the series). Also at the back are a maze, word game, riddles and shark facts. A kid won’t be just tossing this one aside once the story is done. In fact, The King of Show-and-Tell invites kids to dive into Freddy’s world, and that invites a ready reader. And that’s something you can really take a bite out of.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….