Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review: Franklin School Friends

Title: Kelsey Green, Reading Queen (Franklin School Friends #1)
Author: Claudia Mills
Illustrator: Rob Shepperson
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Pages: 128
Review Copy: From Publisher
Availability: On Shelves Now

Summary: Kelsey Kline is the best reader in the third grade--well, maybe tied for best with know-it-all Simon Ellis. When the principal Mr. Boone announces  a school-wide reading contest, complete with a pizza party for the winning class and a special certificate for the top readers in each grade, she knows she's just the person to lead Mrs. Molina's third graders to victory. But how can they win when her classmate Cody Harmon doesn't want to read anything, and even Kelsey's best friends Annika and Izzy don't live up to her expectations? And could Simon possibly be reading all of those books that he claims he is, or is he lying to steal Kelsey's rightful spot at the top?

Review: This is a realistic fiction series that is just the right length for beginning chapter book readers. There are illustrations scattered here and there and the font is a nice size for young readers too. In each of the books in this series one of the group of friends will be the focus. The first friend to be featured is Kelsey. Her strength and passion is reading. In this first book, we see what happens when Kelsey participates in the school reading contest. She gets so focused on winning, that she loses sight of everything else in her life including family, friends, and even fun.

There are some bonuses at the end of the story. There is a list of books read by Kelsey's class,  a list of fun facts about books, reading and libraries, and interviews with both the author and illustrator.

I love reading and I want to encourage reading as much as possible, but I have to say that a reading contest like this kind of put me off a bit. I don't think that would necessarily be a problem with students reading the book, but it did make me a little uncomfortable as a teacher. I was not always impressed with the educational decisions of the adults in the book, but again, I don't think all young readers would have that same reaction. Later I read in Claudia Mills' curriculum guide for the series, "I hope the book shares the fun of reading contests, but also raises some doubts about them."

Overall, it is a fun school based book that has plenty of third-grade drama and silliness along with friendship themes. I think it will be a hit with second and third grade students- especially those who are excited about reading.

Title: Annika Riz, Math Whiz (Franklin School Friends #2)
Author: Claudia Mills
Illustrator: Rob Shepperson
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux
Pages: 128
Review Copy: ARC from Publisher
Availability: On Shelves Now

Summary: Annika Riz loves math more than anything. She's trying to teach her dog, Prime, to count. She's determined to beat fellow math whiz Simon Ellis in a Sudoku contest at the public library. She even sleeps under number-patterned sheets. But Annika's best friends Kelsey and Izzy think math is boring. All they care about is the upcoming school carnival: their principal is going to be dunked in a dunking tank and their class is going to have a booth selling home-baked cookies. But then disaster foils the friends' cookie-baking plans. Can math save the day?

Review: I enjoy math, but reading is definitely has more of my heart so I wasn't sure how this book would work for me. I actually enjoyed Annika Riz more than the first in the series though. Again, some of the decisions of the educators in the book had me frowning, but not as much as in Kelsey Green.

Annika's house is filled with math since her father is a high school math teacher and her mother is an accountant. They even have a dog they named Prime after prime numbers, which Annika explains for readers. The salt and pepper shakers in the shape of three and four were also a nice touch.

Another part that I enjoyed was the baking fiascos. I spend a lot of time baking cookies and have had all kinds of disasters over the years. The girls have many chances to make the cookies, but each time they find some new way to mix things up. Like in the first book, readers see plenty of third-grade drama with school, friendship and keeping perspective as main themes.

I am a runner, so I look forward to reading the book that will highlight Izzy. There aren't a whole lot of books out there for younger readers that focus on running. It's nice to have another series for young readers.  -- Cover images and summaries via Goodreads


  1. Ooh! Running books! Blanking out on one about an elementary running club, but it wasn't very good. Have you read Losing It? VERY good. And, of course Ultra. And Gianna Z. I need to put together a list...

  2. I will look for Losing It and Ultra. I have read Gianna Z though. I forgot that had cross country in it. Thanks!