Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Nora Notebooks: The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills by Katie Kath

Mills expands her realistic school stories to hit a slightly older audience with this new series starter.

Nora loves science and her new obsession is ants. Unfortunately, her classmates, especially the girls, don't appreciate her interests. She's determined to be the youngest person to get a science paper published in a journal, make her classmates appreciate her ants, and hopefully get a good grade on her persuasive paper. But somehow things don't go as she'd hoped, no matter how often she checks her facts and keeps her notebooks up to date. People - and ants - are more unpredictable than she'd expected.

Mills writes realistically of the obstacles faced by a girl interested in science, not least the indifference of her peers. She also sympathetically portrays the naivety and innocent excitement of Nora as she tries out new experiences and goes through everyday growing pains. The minimal black and white illustrations add a light touch of humor (incidentally, it would be cool if Claudia Mills and Ruth McNally Barshaw collaborated. I just thought of that, as I think Ellie McDoodle and Nora would be good friends).

Verdict: This series fills a niche - it should be a hit with younger readers who are ready for more challenging titles but not more challenging themes and for kids who enjoy science, humorous stories, and realistic fiction but aren't ready for the more angst-driven middle grade and teen fiction that currently dominates the market. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780385391610; Published 2015 by Alfred A. Knopf; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to library

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