Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone… by Margie Palatini

Click here to see the review on WUAT.

Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone
by Margie Palatini

Published By: Katherine Tegen Books: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061138980


How Cool is Chic?
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/22/2008

Zoey Zinevich is almost-but-not-quite eleven years old. It’s less than 200 days until sixth grade, which means it’s less than 200 days to get molto chic. If she isn’t by the time sixth grade starts, she will never be cool! That’s what Venus’s (read: Zoey’s magnifico best friend) sister says.

It seems like nothing Zoey and Venus do can get the other kids—especially the Bashleys—to admit they’re cool. What’s not cool about catching bullfrogs, or bowling shirts with fedoras, or owl pellets? Zoey’s only hope lies in getting a fairy godmother. It worked for Cinderella! So what if other ten-almost-eleven-year-old-double-digit kids don’t believe in that kind of stuff anymore?!

This is a very creative middle-grade novel that deals with the preteen’s most pressing concern: coolness. Author Margie Palatini enters into Zoey’s story with great intentions and a sense of offbeat style. Unfortunately, there’s a little too much style. Literally. There are so many font styles and embedded sketches that the pages—just as literally—made my head hurt worse than it already was. The pages are so busy that the reader’s eye jumps helter skelter all over the place. It distracts from the story.

The story is full of heart. It speaks to the basic need for most American preteen girls to fit in with the popular crowd. Zoey is a free spirit who can’t be leashed, and this will become quite apparent, especially toward the end.

The end of the story is one that parents will appreciate, even if it’s a touch unrealistic. Even though the pages are visually busy, I recommend this for all preteen girls.

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Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!… by Diane deGroat

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Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!
Written and Illustrated by Diane deGroat

Published By: HarperTrophy: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0061340611


Gilbert’s Camp Story
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/21/2008

Gilbert has his first overnight trip to camp. All his friends are going, as well as some kids that aren’t as nice. Lewis keeps trying to scare Gilbert by telling him Camp Hi-Dee-Ho is haunted. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as ghosts—or are there?

Gilbert’s experience is one that many children face when going to camp for the first—or fifth—time. The fear of the unknown may stem from the kind of teasing Gilbert gets from Lewis, or it may come from the imagination with no prompting. Either way, facing fears is something every child eventually endures.

Diane deGroat handles this fairly well, although, as a mom, I question how Gilbert handles Lewis when the tables are turned. As long as parents remember the importance of reading with their children, they can address whether Gilbert does the right thing. For reference: Gilbert gets even with Lewis for scaring him.

As always with this series, the illustrations are attractively done. Some “spooky” scenes in the middle can be revealed to children as not so scary (i.e.: that tree doesn’t have faces, it has knots and broken-off branches).

This book is a decent pick for children ready to go to camp, and it may also be well-suited to Halloween time.

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My Beach Book… The Smithsonian Institution

My Beach Book
by Smithsonian Institution

(also, My Shell Book, My Bug Book, My Butterfly Book)

Published By: Collins
ISBN-13: 978-0061115745


Nice and Simple
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

Young children will enjoy this simple board book. Each full-page photo has a “Wh-” question, something that children love to answer and that grown ups don’t ask enough. Each answer is in large, easy font that very early readers have a chance at grasping.

The Smithsonian line of children’s books seem to be well-research into what works for the target ages, and this little board book is no exception. If you’re looking for something highly visual and meaningful, this is a good choice.

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Who Lives in the Rainforest?… by Nora Pelizzari

Who Lives in the Rainforest?
by Nora Pelizzari

Published By: HarperCollinsPublishers
ISBN-13: 978-0064117709


Nice Little Book
Reviewed by Christina Wantz Fixemer
on 09/20/2008

This little book is very colorful with a bit of a puzzle feel. Children are asked to find an animal in the jungle, which is drawn in bright greens, oranges, yellows, and reds. The animals hide behind flaps. When they’re found, the child sees an uncluttered picture, with a labeled, smaller picture on the reverse of the flap.

The flaps in this board book seem sturdier than average, but I am still concerned about small kids pulling them off. For flap books, I tend to recommend them for preschoolers rather than babies–although flaps often don’t survive three years olds either!

Cute and educational, this is a nice little book for your child’s library.

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