Kelsey Green, Reading Queen

Bk. 1. illus. by Rob Shepperson. 128p. (Franklin School Friends Series). Farrar/Margaret Ferguson. 2013. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37485-3; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-0-374-37488-4. LC 2011027870.
Gr 2–4—Third-grader Kelsey Green reads constantly-even during math class. When the principal calls for a reading contest, Kelsey's obsession with books increases and her competitive spirit kicks in-but not in positive ways. First, she becomes suspicious that another student is lying about how many books he's read because she can't bear to think about coming in second. Next, she takes on tutoring a student struggling with his reading skills. Her motivation is to push him to read in order to further their class goal: to read the most books and be the winners of the pizza party. After some missteps and struggles, however, Kelsey comes to realize that she loves reading for reading's sake-not just to win a contest. She further realizes that if she can help someone improve his skills, that is reward enough. This is the first of a promising series. As she did in Fractions = Trouble! (2011), 7 x 9 = Trouble (2002, both Farrar), and other titles, Mills incorporates realistic school situations with everyday challenges with which kids can identify. Kelsey's reading list makes a great bibliography and a way to engage readers. Occasional full-page drawings enhance the story. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of Clementine, Ivy and Bean, and Judy Moody.—Tina Martin, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, IL
Kelsey might be the reading queen of her third-grade class, but her throne is threatened when principal Mr. Boone announces a school-wide reading challenge: two thousand books read before April, and he'll shave off his beard. What to do? Like every precocious reader who's ever gamed a summer reading club, Kelsey puts down The Secret Garden for Sarah, Plain and Tall, and any other "short but age-appropriate book she could find." First in a new series, the chapter book explores Mills's favorite subject -- everyday life with a side of ethical examination -- to good effect as Kelsey discovers the difference between loving to read and loving to win. In a considerable plus, the book name-checks a number of easy-reader and chapter-book classics so that Kelsey's enthusiasm can be passed right along. Frequent and aptly casual illustrations pace the narrative. roger sutton

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