Review: Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain

starring jules

Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain

When Jules is singing her new jingle for a fizzy ice-cream cone to her little brother and making lots of bubbles in their milk glasses, she is discovered and invited to audition for a mouthwash commercial.  But even for a girl with lots of “pizzazz” there are difficulties to overcome.  First, Jules finds out that the mouthwash is orange flavored, a flavor that makes her want to puke.  Second, the only one she can see who can help her is her old best-friend Charlotte Stinkerton Pinkerton.  Third, there’s a new girl in Jules’ class who may just be the perfect best friend ever, but Jules has to get to her first, before she joins the new clique that Charlotte has formed.  It’s a complicated situation for Jules and the question is whether it will be just too much for this girl who is fizzy and filled with pizzazz.

Ain has created a character that reads like an older Clementine.  Jules is wonderfully and innately quirky, obviously happy in her own skin.  All of the small details and Jules’ unique view of the world serve to make her a beautifully human character.  Happily, the same is true for the secondary characters as well.  They are all richly drawn and complex.  Friendship is shown in all of its miscommunication and mistakes.

Written with a light hand and a jaunty pace, this book will appeal to readers who have grown up with Clementine and are looking for a new heroine with plenty of individuality.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Review: Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier

open this little book

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier, illustrated by Suzy Lee

Open the full-sized picture book and inside you find a series of nesting books, each smaller than the one before.  The stories in the books also nest with one another.  First the reader opens the Little Red Book and discovers ladybug who is opening the Little Green Book where frog is the character.  On and on it goes, until the story reaches a little twist in the little books.  Then the stories unwind as the books are closed one by one.  It’s impossible to not be charmed by the design and concept.

Debut author, Klausmeier has created a seamless partnership with illustrator Lee.  The book is so much a marriage of their work that one might think it was done entirely by one artist.  The story is simple yet fully engaging.  The problem you may have with little listeners is having them slow down opening the next book in time to read the words on the page.  Lee’s illustrations add to the charm, hearkening back to vintage picture books but still carrying a modern vibe.  The scale of the books is perfection, like opening a Russian nesting doll.

Engaging, interactive and oh so much fun, this book looks at colors, sequence and a love of reading.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.