Moxy Maxwell Does Not Like Stuart Little

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford, photographs by Valorie Fisher. 

This goes down as one of my favorite books for elementary school readers this year. 

Let’s first talk about the glory of the cover.  There is Moxy with her tattered copy of Stuart Little, held upside down.  And the look on her face is priceless.  It is a treat to see a cover that so wonderfully speaks to the content of the book itself.  To love this cover is to love this book.

A perfect summertime read, we follow Moxy as she wrestles with having to read Stuart Little over the summer.  Moxy has now procrastinated until it is the final day of summer vacation and she has yet to even start reading the book.  She has carried it with her all summer long, but seems to continue to find reasons that she cannot start it quite yet.  The book features her final day of the summer which she spends in a variety of ways that do not get her book read. 

This is a laugh-out-loud type of book.  Just the chapter titles will get you grinning and then the prose itself will work its magic.  The chapters are short, very short in some cases, and they make the book even more pleasurable for young readers.  Moxy is a true character who will speak to all children who have had to do anything by a deadline.  Her parents are real people as are her siblings.  The entire family is a joy to read about. 

Moxy’s overall love of reading is one feature that demonstrates how skillfully crafted this small book is.  It would have been much easier and obvious to have Moxy hate reading altogether, but Moxy just doesn’t like being told what to do.  This small detail speaks volumes about her character and adds depth to the book.  So often Gifford chooses her characters over the obvious, much to her credit.

With its friendly print size, short chapters and plenty of photographs, this book is a great summer read for children in elementary school.  If you have a child participating in summer reading program, this book should be handed to them.  Tiptoe quietly away and wait for the giggles of glee to start.

I also see that a sequel will be coming out in 2008!  Something to definitely look forward to.

Igraine the Brave

Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke. 

Released October 2007.

I am always amazed that Funke can create the dark fantasy of her Inkspell series and then produce such a friendly, silly book like this!  Her picture books are also great examples of silly books for even younger children. 

Igraine is the daughter of two famous magicians and her brother is studying to be a magician too.  But Igraine is not interested in all of the memorization that goes into being a magician.  She is much more interested in becoming a knight.  One might think that being the daughter of magicians would be exciting, but Igraine is so bored by it all.  Even the water snakes in the moat, the stone lions that roar warnings, and the gargoyles that can eat fire arrows don’t hold any interest.  That is until Osmund the Greedy takes over the castle next door and starts to attack, trying to get the magic books from her parents.  Now Igraine’s own courage is tested as she sets out to find the ingredients her parents require after a magical mishap. 

I don’t want to go into too much detail about the story, because it is so very delightful to discover on your own.  This is a light-hearted fantasy with a strong female heroine who stands easily on her own two feet.  Igraine is a welcome heroine, but I also enjoyed the way her older brother is portrayed and her parents as well.  And we must talk about the wonderful line drawings that Funke has created to go with the story.  They add a vividness and whimsical nature to the book. 

The writing is humorous, accessible, and will suit children in third grade and up.  There is enough danger to keep the story interesting, but not enough for it to be of any concern for parents of younger children.  So if you have a child who is reading early, this may be just the book that they would enjoy.  Even first and second graders reading at a higher level would find the story accessible and fun.  It could also be used as a read-aloud in a younger classroom and will be filled with enough action to keep everyone interested.