Friday, August 1, 2008

Book Review: Just Grace, by Charise Mericle Harper

     I did not get to be the helper to Mister Magic the Magician at my very own (so it should have been me) sixth birthday party because Sammy Stringer spit purple grape juice all over my special white shirt with a big six on it, and I had to change it right when Mister Magic was starting up.     
     Mom said she was sure it was an accident, but I just know that spitting is pretty much and on-purpose thing, and it is almost impossible to forgive someone for something on purpose even if it was almost three years ago, which is a very long time.

Summary: ...and that is just item one of Grace's "I Did Not Get to Be" list. Grace is a girl who makes a lot of lists, draws comics (even though it's #4 on her list of "Boy Things"), and has a "small superpower." When Grace discovers a sad story about her neighbor, that superpower kicks in, and she hatches a Big Idea to help her neighbor feel better. She enlists the help of her best friend, and the glamourous French flight attendant who lives in the apartment in Grace's basement. But when things go wrong and the plan threatens to collapse, Grace finds more help from a very unlikely source.

For Teachers and Librarians:
There is much in this book for you to use with your little charges. Written from Grace's point of view, both boys and girls will connect easily, as the voice is very authentic, and Grace - while a typical third grade girl - is not a girlie-girl. After you've read the book, have them identify someone in your community who could use some cheering up. Let them plan out a way to help them feel better, write it all out, gather supplies, and then carry it out. It's a great way to give kids a sense of empowerment, and to help them develop a community service project. Talk with them about empathy. What does it mean? How is it a superpower? What kinds of similar things are they good at? Let them draw and write a comic about a superpower that they have. Is someone a good listener? How about someone who is good at solving problems between friends? Or perhaps there is a good organizer in the bunch. Discussion can pull out lots of ideas for the kids to work from.

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
Just Grace is all about friendship, knowing yourself, solving problems at school, and caring for those around you - and not just family. Besides being a good story, it will show your kids how powerful they are, and how much help they can give, even though they are "just" kids. Once you've read it with them, or they've read it themselves, maybe they will want to help someone the same way Grace helped her neighbor. Maybe they will begin to see another kid they know in a new light. Maybe they will figure out a way to solve something unpleasant or embarrassing that happened to them at school. Definitely, they will enjoy the book, and learn a lot - but not in a preachy, obvious kind of way. It's a book they won't want to put down.

For the Kids: Grace has a lot to say, she loves making lists, she has a great best friend, and she has a super-cool downstairs neighbor. She also got stuck with a name she didn't want at school, has a scary old-kid teacher for a next-door neighbor, and gets blamed for something bad that she didn't do while she was trying to do something nice. And all of it is connected. How? Well, you gotta go read the book to see...

For Everyone Else:
Just Grace is a quick read for adults, but the story will stick with you long after the book is put down. Grace is a memorable kid, and a likeable one, and she has to sort out her life just like the rest of us. It may bring back old memories of elementary school. Were you one of four other kids with the same name? Did you have any Big Ideas? Go ahead...step back in time a little while...

Wrapping Up:
Just Grace is a fun story, with a character the reader can't help but like: she's got a lot of spunk, and she has her own ideas about life, but she's willing to see the other side of things, too. And the great thing is, if this book leaves you wanting to read more, there are more Just Grace books out there!

Title: Just Grace
Author and Illustrator: Charise Mericle Harper
Pages: 144
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Publisher and Date: Houghton Mifflin, 2007
Edition: 1st
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $15.00
ISBN-10: 0618646426
ISBN-13: 978-0618646425

No comments:

Post a Comment

So, what's on your mind?