Originally published in October 2013. I find Heidi one of the freshest new characters in the chapter book world.
By Wanda Coven, Illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Published by: Little Simon (January 3, 2012)
Available in: paperback, library binding, Kindle, NOOK
At the time of this review, there were 10 books in the Heidi Heckelbeck series.
Heidi Heckelbeck is magic. But don’t tell your little reader—the big reveal is in the last line of the first book in the series.
In fact, the whole of Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret leads up to a denouement in the second book, Heidi Heckelbeck Casts a Spell. See the utter genius of the marketing plan? Rather than make a chapter book that is too big, this series runs like separate parts of the same story. Yes, each piece is complete unto itself. But if a kid is hooked, she WILL NOT stop at one book.
It’s almost kind of cruel, isn’t it? Much how we all had to wait for each Harry Potter installment, Heidi Heckelbeck’s story is filled with unrequited expectation. Ah, but the anticipation is half the joy, and I give only kudos to the author for this inspired, pint-size version of the magical, multi-book saga.
The text, done with refreshingly contemporary language, is a very easy read. There is absolutely no mistaking Heidi’s world for those classic chapter books of another decade. Add in the zingy, silly illustrations that dot almost every page, and even very reluctant readers will find a way through each page… and then the next… and then the next book.
Also, props go to the interesting idea that Heidi is a previous homeschool kid who now has to integrate into real school. Unique, and filled with the drama you’d expect. All those tough transitions place Heidi squarely in the real world, with problems any kid can recognize. From bullies to clueless teachers, Heidi has some difficult stuff to work through, which she does with grace… once she makes a few haunting mistakes.
As a note, this is listed as a Halloween book, which it technically is not. But the Halloween overtones and references abound, so if a kid is into that theme, Heidi delivers quite the treat. And she’s got some tricks up her sleeve to boot.
Now that’s a sweet haul for any day of the year.
What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….