Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe

Missy cover image

Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #1: Picture Day

By Susan Nees

 

Published by: Scholastic Inc. (April 30, 2013)

Available in: hardcover, paperback, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review there were four books in the Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe series.

 

Super!

Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #1: Picture Day leaps off the page with zest and abundant personality. Although so short and brief in text that I hesitated to lump it with chapter books, this series has too much life to be held to early readers.

Missy leads this romp from chapter one. When the text is less challenging, the lively illustrations fill in with colorful wit that leave no doubt: this little girl is ready to take the world by storm. I love that she’s assertive without being snarky. I love that she’s energetic and unapologetic and sincerely her own person. Indeed, Missy will be loved—she just won’t have it any other way.

Young girl readers will appreciate how author/illustrator Nees both keeps Missy alight with humor and verve, and yet grounded in a very specific, real world. There is a messy room, kitty litter to attend to, moms who are kind of bossy about what to wear on picture day, bus rides to endure while in a funk, and, ultimately, friends found in unexpected places.

As a writer, I appreciate Nees’ ability to tap into the pulse of the child mind. With vocabulary, subject and action that feels real and authentic, she has catapulted her story beyond the norm. Especially in this genre, that is so tied to short text, simple vocabulary and an age group with more energy than experience, Nees makes Missy bold, original and yet utterly believable. No small task, and kudos and respect in spades.

With a thoughtful yet original plot, fully developed characters and a real zinger of a surprise ending, this short-statured tome is a full-blown extravaganza for the newly independent chapter book set.

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….

Kiki of Lotus Lane

kiki cover

Lotus Lane #1: Kiki: My Stylish Life

By Kyla May

 

Published by: Scholastic Inc. (April 30, 2013)

Available in: hardcover, paperback, Kindle, NOOK

At the time of this review there were four books in the Lotus Lane series.

 

Fact: girls can be silly.

Lotus Lane #1: Kiki: My Stylish Life is a modern chapter book in look, feel and subject matter. It is written for and will be enjoyed by girly girls who like fashion, access to the popular girls’ club and a peek into a lively diary that is more rambling thought than plot.

With a graphic novel layout and illustrations reminiscent of the Hello Kitty brand, Kiki is part of Scholastic’s excellent Branches line of chapter books. But for the first time, I’m not completely in love with a book in this line—but not because of poor production.

In fact, this book is just as slick and well-designed as the other Branches books. It appeals to a very specific target market with light, reality-based dialogue, lots of dazzling fashion content and a silliness embraced with fashionista zeal. On the more serious side, it also deals with the misunderstood/mean girl issue. And the graphic novel format has, so far, been more available for boys (Captain Underpants, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), so it’s nice that girls have a choice here, too.

My problem is that the fun quickly turns annoying and exhibits less than model behavior. Kiki and her friends bash the new girl and obsess about what they’ll wear to school each day. What was OTT (over the top) fun with a BFF in chapter one becomes snarky and shallow by chapter three. It’s a good book—it just made me cringe. I found Kiki a little like eating too many donuts: the idea is delicious, but even before the halfway point, I felt sort of sick.

To Branches I have to say, Bravo for the line. But is Kiki really the best you can do? And do we really want to promote this kind of individual to our second grade girls?

What do you say teachers, parents and writers? Use the comment below and let’s chat….