31 March 2014

March Selections for the Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club

Remember when I introduced you to the Scholastic Mother-Daughter Book Club for middle readers? I'm committed to featuring or reviewing all the books selected for this club because I think Scholastic has picked winning titles that have broad appeal.

Don't forget that the Scholastic book club site includes more information about the books, recipes, reading guides, and contests. The resources are perfect for book clubs, teachers, homeschoolers, and any one who wants to get more out of reading books with middle grade readers.

Even though the March selections are almost polar opposites, I enjoyed them both. Let's take a look.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie LloydNatalie Lloyd's A Snicker of Magic tells the story of Felicity Juniper Pickle, who has just moved to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, where her mom grew up. According to local legend, the town used to be hidden from the world because everyone who lived there had a little magic running in their veins. But the magic left almost a hundred years ago, when two brothers quarreled, setting off a curse.

On the first day of sixth grade in her new school, Felicity meets an unusual boy who not only befriends her but trusts her with some of the town's secrets. The more Felicity learns, the more she wants to respark the lost magic, hoping her artistic mother will overcome her wanderlust and set down roots Midnight Gulch.

Part of the charm of A Snicker of Magic is Felicity's special relationship with words. She is, in fact, a collector of words: real words, words that should be real, and words that can be split to make more. Through words, she soothes her sister's fears and even helps her friends.

I imagine that young readers will want to talk about family, magic, sisters, shyness, and the meaning of home. Adults might want to steer the discussion around to the power (magic?) of words, the concept of community, and strength of memory. Other great questions can be found on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site. The suggested recipe is for blackberry ice cream, which plays a very special role in Felicity's story.

The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy GownleyIn The Dumbest Idea Ever!, author Jimmy Gownley recalls, in graphic novel form, the defining years of his youth in a coal-mining town in eastern Pennsylvania. In junior high, Jimmy was not only the top student in his small Catholic school but also a star basketball player. He studied hard and had a group of good friends. But he also had a love of graphic novels and comics.

When chickenpox and then pneumonia kept him out of school for over a month, Jimmy went through a transition. He became obsessed with writing and drawing his own graphic novel and began to lose interest in his schoolwork. But when he finally fiinished a short book, his best friend told him the story was no good.

Jimmy was discouraged, but his friend's dumb idea--"Why don't you write a comic book about us?"--began to take root, and that's just what young Jimmy did. Along the way, however, the thirteen-year-old learned a few lessons, especially about family, friendship, popularity, and hard work.

Adults might want to tell their young readers that Jimmy's story is autobiographical and that Gownley is now an award-winning, best-selling graphic novelist. This might prompt them to think about what they see in their own futures. Discussion topics include the downside of fame, the importance of being able to freely express your ideas, and the way that fiction can tell us something about life and ourselves. More discussion questions can be found on the Scholastic mother-daughter book club site. The suggested recipe is for soft pretzels, a nod to a life-changing trip Jimmy and his friend Ellen make to New York City.

A Snicker of Magic: Scholastic Press, 2014; ISBN-13: 978054555270
The Dumbest Idea Ever!: Scholastic, Graphix, 2014; ISBN-13: 9780545453462
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


Daryl 3/31/14, 8:16 AM  

sounds like a great read for pre-teen boys .. who i think are far more invested in graphics and comic books ... i base this observation on my own childhood there is no scientific data involved

Vasilly 3/31/14, 10:27 AM  

A Snicker of Magic is in my reading pile so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine 4/5/14, 2:52 PM  

I think sons would like both of these books. Thanks for sharing!

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