Friday, January 19, 2018

Beatrice Zinker upside down thinker by Shelley Johannes

Beatrice does things a little differently. She likes to hang upside down, think upside down, and follow her own path! This was fine in second grade - she even got a certificate for her creative thinking. But now it's third grade. Her best friend, Lenny, has been visiting family in the Philippinnes all summer and when she comes back to school she doesn't follow their agreement to wear ninja suits! She seems to want to be best friends with a new girl, Chloe, who likes things just so. Beatrice's new teacher doesn't like her upside-down thinking either and Beatrice is wondering if there's anywhere for her to fit in anymore.

After many difficulties and misunderstandings, Beatrice comes to realize that she hasn't necessarily lost a friend, but she has to be willing to be accepting of differences, just as she expects others to accept her unique outlook on life. Although a friendly adult neighbor gently reminds her that friendships change and may not last, Beatrice knows she has successfully negotiated this change, at least, in her friendship.

Although this tackles the familiar story of changing friendship, it adds in a Dahlesque flavor of humor, with over-the-top characters, including Beatrice's family who, although disapproving of her odd ways are certainly weird enough in their own right. Orange and black cartoons sprinkle the pages and Beatrice's quirky behavior, while understandably annoying to adults, is sure to make readers giggle. At over 140 pages this is long for a beginning chapter book and will appeal most to readers who are fans of Ramona, Clementine, Junie B. Jones, and other slice-of-life stories. The additional illustrations and humor may also add a little more interest and I think my fans of Bea Garcia might be interested in trying this title.

Verdict: If you're looking for more books in this vein, this is an acceptable addition. However, it doesn't particularly stand out from the many, many beginning chapter books featuring spunky girls with friendship troubles and the diversity - centered solely in Beatrice's best friend (i.e. sidekick) is minimal.

ISBN: 9781484767382; Published 2017 by Disney-Hyperion; Galley provided by publisher at ALA 2017; Borrowed finished copy from another library in my consortium

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