Friday, May 30, 2014

Annika Riz, Math Whiz by Claudia Mills, illustrated by Rob Shepperson

Displaying ANNIKA RIZ cover (3).jpgI really liked the first Franklin School Friends book, Kelsey Green, Reading Queen, and I've been hopefully anticipating the next title in the series.

This features one of Kelsey's two friends, Annika Riz. As you can guess from the title, she just loves math. Her parents are both into math as well. Her friends...not so much. Kelsey, of course, would rather read while Izzy (her book is coming next) loves sports. Annika is frustrated that her friends think math is hard and boring but she just can't stop giving them answers in class. Then she finds out that the library is offering a city-wide sudoku competition. If she can win, maybe her friends will see just how cool math is. There's more drama in the form of the school carnival and the kids are wondering why Mrs. Molina, their math-loving and strict teacher, hasn't volunteered for the dunking booth.

Everything comes to a head at the carnival where Annika makes some realizations and decisions. She shows her friends that math is important, even if they don't like it, but also realizes that it's ok if your friends don't share your passion. As Mrs. Molina says, "Different people enjoy different things."

I love that Annika never gives in to the pressure of her friends to dislike math, even while she compromises a little to realize that not everyone will love it as much as she does. There's a lot of peer pressure in school for girls to "hate math" and Annika stands proud and makes herself count! It's got plenty of humor, in the cookie disasters and Annika's attempt to teach her beagle to count. As a librarian, I thought it was awesome that it showed an unsuccessful library program. I know, that sounds crazy, but seriously that's LIFE. As Annika learns, not everyone is going to like the same things and stuff goes wrong.

Verdict: This is another great entry in the Franklin School Friends series. It's not too didactic, although it carries a definite message. It's realistic and funny and a perfect length for beginning chapter readers. I'm waiting anxiously for the third book, which should feature their friend Izzy who is African-American. You might think you have enough realistic fiction with Judy Moody, Clementine, etc. but most of those series are too challenging for the just-graduated-from-Junie-B. age group and this series fits neatly into that in-between niche. Squeeze out some money from your budget - you won't be sorry.

ISBN: 9780374303358; Published May 2014 by Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar Straus Giroux; ARC provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library

1 comment:

cmills said...

Jennifer, thanks so much for your kind words about my book; I remember you were gracious about KELSEY GREEN when it came out, too. Jean Little was a favorite author of mine growing up - her book HOME FROM FAR is one of the saddest and most hauntingly beautiful books I ever read. Thanks for all you do to keep a community of readers connected.