Late again! Yesterday was a very full, very busy day, and I am just getting around to recommending this wonderful book for kids and adults alike.
Clara’s dad, Marc owns a very special cafe in Flowers, Kansas. Clara knows that the Van Gogh Cafe is where magic happens. Many special events happen that involve the whole town and that change the whole town: like the wayward sea-gull’s appearance, the possum’s visit, or the magic muffins which arrive just when they are needed most. Lively, warm, and magic, each chapter’s vignette adds to the revealing conclusion which helps the reader learn that the secret of the magic at the Van Gogh cafe is L.O.V.E.
Today I am starting a new type post. Saturday Morning for Kids will be book reviews and miscellaneous thoughts aimed at the younger set. When I was a kid, Saturday morning TV was reserved for kids only. Showtimes began at 6:30 a.m. and ran through 11:00 or 12:00 noon, depending on the network. While kids were safely occupied with cartoons, Mom and Dad could safely sleep in a few extra hours if they wished. Older kids poured cereal and milk into younger siblings’ bowls, and we munched in time with the musical backgrounds of cartoons like Looney Tunes. Who knew we were getting an education on classical music!
Today’s review will be of The King of Show and Tell, a book in the Ready Freddy series written by Abby Klein and illustrated by John McKinley. This 86 page (large print) book, published by Scholastic includes at the back a newsy, fun letter from the author to the reader and Freddy’s Fun Pages which includes facts about sharks, a secret decoding riddle, a fill-in-the-blank silly story written by the main character, directions for building a bird feeder, and a maze.
The first page of the book states Freddy’s problem:
“I have a problem. A really, really big problem. I never have anything cool to bring for show-and-tell. Let me tell you about it.”
The characters are the typical ones found in classrooms for students young enough to have Show-and-Tell in their curriculum, and will appeal to readers young enough to participate in this activity, especially those who might share Freddy’s problem. Without spoiling the plot or the outcome, read this book to your kid, grandkid, or students and see how Freddy goes from the Dunce of Show and Tell to the King of Show and Tell.
Lauren Child’s charming chapter book, Utterly Me, Clarice Bean was not my first encounter with the girl of the title. Several years ago, I found a book at Half Price Books for my Little Free Library (LFL) entitled Clarice Bean Spells Trouble which was about a kid who couldn’t spell if her life depended on it and a teacher, Mrs. Wilberton, who couldn’t understand why Clarice “just didn’t try.” This book, Utterly Me… is evidently the first in the Clarice Bean series. Clarice and her best friend, Betty Moody are “utterly” (Clarice’s favorite word) hooked on the Ruby Redford series (think Nancy Drew with James Bond gadgets and Batman’s butler).
Not only do Clarice and Betty follow the books (of which excerpts are included throughout), they write to the author and use the girl detective’s methods to solve a mystery in their own classroom, much to Mrs. Wilberton’s dismay (She is not a fan of either Ruby Redford or Clarice.), Clarice and Betty decide to do their book report on a Ruby Redford book they are reading. Betty disappears, Clarice is partnered with the worst boy in class (who turns out not to be so bad), and eventually the mystery is solved with the culprit astonishing Mrs. Wilberton.
Secondary characters like Clarice’s and Betty’s parents, Clarice’s siblings, and various students in their class add humor, interest, and satisfaction. The cartoonish drawings which illustrate the story are excellent as well.
It is aimed at 8 year olds to early junior high, providing an excellent starter-chapter book for any girl or boy. I received it as a discard from a local elementary school for my LFL, free, so I can boast that my five out of five star rating is totally unbiased. I am glad I took the time to read the book.