Friday, August 21, 2015

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree; Too Much Good Luck by Ellen Potter, illustrated by Qin Leng

There are a lot of beginning chapter books featuring small girls. Junie B. Jones, Princess Posey, Lulu, Cam Jansen, and I could go on and on. Many of them have some defining "quirk"; either the girls are interested in animals, or mysteries, or being naughty. So what makes this new series about Piper Green stand out from the crowd?

First of all, Piper Green lives on an island. Secondly, there is a real fairy tree near her house! In her first story, we meet Piper, an ordinary girl who lives in a very different place; on an island! She's having trouble adjusting to her older brother leaving home for the mainland for high school and other changes, like the new teacher who looks like a fairy princess but is NOT understanding about Piper's monkey ear muffs. Eventually, an understanding neighbor and the discovery of the wonderful fairy tree bring about a happy ending for all.

In her second adventure, Piper Green is very upset when her class has to send away their beloved rabbit because of a new girl. She does something really bad without even thinking about it and now she doesn't know how to fix it. Can the fairy tree help her again?

Piper isn't the noisiest, naughtiest girl in the class, a la Junie B. or Ramona, but she definitely has a strong personality. Like any second grader, she has strong likes and dislikes and doesn't always think about the consequences of what she does. Small things, like the color of her bedroom and the class pet, loom large in her life but she has good friends and supportive family to help her through her difficulties.

I love Qin Leng's picture book illustrations and she's an excellent choice for the black and white spot illustrations in a beginning chapter book series. Her characters are distinctive with a touch of diversity and flesh out the stories to show their enthusiasm, disappointment, guilt, and friendship.

Verdict: There are plenty of beginning chapter books featuring every day life for young girls and I felt the first book was a bit bland and a little confusing (I thought until the end that her brother was dead) but the second book had a great plot and was really funny. I would say this is a solid offering with a few fun twists - the fairy tree and life on the island. I expect Heidi Heckelbeck and Princess Posey fans to enjoy this series.

Published 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf/Random House; ARCs provided by publisher

Fairy Tree
ISBN: 9780553499230

Too Much Good Luck
ISBN: 9780553499278

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