American Girl – Meet Kit Review

AME

Today’s book was easy to select because this entire column is dedicated to American Girl novels. Growing up, I never quite understood  why so many girls were obsessed with these dolls, but I always found myself drawn to Kit, the short-haired blonde who seemed to have a spunky personality. I thought it would appropriate for me to learn more about who Kit really is by choosing Meet Kit as my book for this column.

AME Meet Kit CoverKit Kittredge is a tomboy. She likes playing baseball, writing newspaper stories on her typewriter, and loves the story of Robin Hood. She lives with her ideal family during the time of the Great Depression. Her family hasn’t really been affected by all the changes the Depression caused, but when one of the members of her mother’s garden club is no longer able to afford to stay in their home, Kit’s mother offers to let them stay with the Kittredge family. Kit must now adjust to having two new members of the household, including sickly Stirling. Halfway through the book, her father looses his job as a car salesman, and Kit’s family must adjust to the changes and figure out how to make money when there are no jobs.

This book is a great starting point for entering the historical fiction genre for 2-5th graders. The story itself is well-written and I loved that they included pictures in the margins to show objects that children may be unfamiliar with, such as when phlox flowers are mentioned. The book also includes an informational section in the back of the book to provide additional facts about the time period, which would be perfect to use as discussion at home and in the classroom.

My only gripe about this story is that I’m not sure it does justice to what families faced during this time period. The Great Depression was a difficult experience to live through, many people were homeless and went hungry. This book briefly touches on these issues, but Kit probably will not be experiencing them herself any time soon. The biggest problem Kit seems to face in the book is that she has to move into the attic to make room for strangers to live in her room.

Cam Jansen Review

Cam Jansen cover

Here it is! My first book for the challenge. I chose Cam Jansen over all the other titles on our first column of shelves because I remember it being incredibly popular with my elementary students when I was student teaching. I really didn’t know much about the series before I read this title, only that it was a mystery series involving a young heroine whom the series is named after. I was fortunate enough to find the first book in this series, “Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds“, on the shelf, so I was able to experience how the series started.

Cam Jansen is a mystery series that uses Cam’s unique photographic memory to solve mysteries. Cam and her friend Eric witness a jewelry store robbery in the mall and notice what the police fail to; the man who ran out of the jewelry leaves in the same direction as a suspicious couple did. Cam and Eric follow the suspicious character back to their hideout, where Cam manages to discover how the robbery was committed while her friend Eric gets the police.

The one thing that stood out to me while reading this book is how negligent the parents seem to be. Cam, Eric, and Eric’s baby brother were left alone in the mall while the mother went off shopping with Eric’s twin sisters. Cam and Eric then take this baby with them through a run down neighborhood and get caught by potentially dangerous criminals. I realize this story was published in 1980, and parenting was different back then, but this still seems very irresponsible.

IMG_2101
At what point did we think bringing a baby on a stakeout was a good idea???

The pictures are also pretty dated, but there are newer editions of Cam Jansen’s adventures that have better artwork for the 21st century reader.

Overall, Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds is a lighthearted mystery that readers as early as second grade can enjoy.  The writing is simplistic and easy to follow along with, the addition of pictures helps to cement the context for early readers who are starting chapter books.

Around the Children’s Section in 80 Days Challenge!

Hello and welcome to Around the Children’s Section in 80 Days! I currently work as a Youth Services Clerk at my local library. I love reading young adult and fantasy books, so whenever a child or parent asks me for books from a different genre I find myself using other resources (the Internet) for good recommendations. In order to combat this, and to give myself a fun reading challenge to start off 2016, I have designed my “Around the Children’s Section in 80 Days” challenge!

The rules are as follows:

Starting January 1st, 2016 my challenge begins. I have 80 days, the final day being March 20th, to read one book from each column of shelves in the children’s fiction section. There are 6 rows of children’s fiction with 8 columns each, this means I’ll have to read a total of 48 books to make my way through the alphabet.

IMG_2033

Each column looks similar to the picture above, and ultimately which book I decide to read from the column is up to me, but I do want to branch out of my comfort zone and choose titles I would not normally glance at otherwise.

After I have finished reading a book I will post my thoughts and review the titles both here and on my goodreads.

Happy Reading!

(Can you guess which book pictured above I’ll be reading first? Post your guess in the comment section below!)