Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A New Early Chapter Book from Kate DiCamillo

Keeping on the theme of Early Chapter Books this week, I am focusing on the new book by Kate DiCamillo.  She has spun off some of the characters from her Mercy Watson series and now we get to delve even deeper into the the lives of the inhabitants on Deckawoo Drive.  Needless to say they are an eccentric and utterly unique group.

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Title: Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon

Author: Kate DiCamillo

Target: Grades 1-3

Series: This is a companion book to the Mercy Watson series

What this book is about: 
Francine Poulet is an animal control officer.  She comes from a long line of animal control officers and has forty seven trophies that prove her superiority in her job.  However, when she is called in to capture a “ghost” raccoon, she is scared for the first time in her life.  With her failure to capture the raccoon, she begins to doubt her calling in life and finds other employment.  However, she is lucky enough to meet a young man who forces to face her fears and remember her true calling.

Why I love this book: 
This book, along with Leroy Ninker are hard ones for me.  On the positive side, I love the characters developed by DiCamillo.  They are quirky, humorous and insanely well drawn by Chris Van Dusen.  DiCamillo also does a beautiful job of interjecting new vocabulary into the text by seamlessly incorporating the definitions and cleverly repeating key words and phrases.  Frankly, no one else does it better.

However the one gift of her books which is also their downfall are the larger messages incorporated.  In her early reader series Bink and Gollie, she is able to bring in a more meaningful message which feels completely appropriate for kids to grasp.  In this book, as in Leroy Ninker, the bigger message is again noble, but perhaps a bit too broad for a 6-8 year old.  Having an adult face their fear and question their calling in life can certainly be applied to any age, but I don’t know if many kids will be able to make that leap.

Who this book is for: 
Good book for fans of Mercy Watson. With plenty of gorgeous illustrations and big type this is a fit for kids moving to early chapter books, but I worry that kids will put it down when the message of the book looses it's relevance for them.

Final thoughts:
I really wish she would keep the bigger messages simpler and more targeted to a younger audience.  It is not that we shouldn’t push boundaries for our kids, but I think that to make a message meaningful it has to be more relatable to their circumstances.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume Two  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

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