Friday, December 15, 2017

Jada Jones Rock Star and Class Act by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Jada Jones is a new beginning chapter book character, full of verve and interest in the world around her. In Rock Star, her first story, we meet Jada with a serious case of the blues. Her best friend has moved away and now she's alone. Who will go rock collecting with her now? Even when she finds out that their new unit at school is going to be all about rocks she can't get out of her funk. But she decides to make the best of it and starts working on making friends with her new seatmate, Lena. But Lena's best friend, Simone, is being mean to Jada for no reason! After some wise advice from her family and some thinking things over, Jada confronts Simone and realizes that she's worried about losing her best friend to Jada. After apologies all around, the girls realize that not only can they be a threesome, it's ok to try new things. Lena and Simone will try rock collecting and Jada will learn to jump rope at recess with them.

In her second story, Jada is excited to be nominated for class representative, along with her friend Miles. But pretty soon things are getting out of hand. Jada's friends, Lena and Simone, are fighting with Miles' friends, especially RJ. And Jada is really worried about having to give a speech in front of the entire fourth grade! When it seems like Miles has done something mean and broken the rules, how will Jada react?

The books are themed in purple and gray, and the majority of the characters, including all the main characters, are African-American. Which I really appreciate, since all too often "diverse" characters are relegated to sidekicks and "friends" of the main character. While the books are a little heavy on the moralistic side, the kids are realistic and their daily trials and tribulations are relatable.

Verdict: If you're looking to add more diversity to your beginning chapter books, or if you want more character-building beginning chapters to recommend for use in classrooms, this new series is a good choice.

Jada Jones rock star
ISBN: 9780448487526; Published 2017 by Penguin Workshop; Review copy provided by publisher

Jada Jones class act
ISBN: 9781451534279; Published 2017 by Penguin Workshop; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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