Thursday, October 25, 2018

Bea Garcia: Tale of a Scaredy Dog by Deborah Zemke

Bea Garcia is back in her third book. By now, readers will know that she is in second grade, loves to draw, is sort-of friends with super-smart Judith Einstein and definite enemies with next-door-neighbor Bert.

In her latest run-in with Bert, Bea and Bert are supposed to interview each other for class. Bea just writes "GRRRR" for all his answers and Bert scribbles untrue things about her, so she crumples up the paper. This gets the two of them in trouble - they have to interview each other's families over the weekend. Bert's mom isn't bad, but it turns out that Bert does have a pet... Big Kitty! And Bea's pet dog Sophie, is so scared that she runs away, chased by that mean cat!

Bea is miserable, especially when they find Bert's pet but not hers. But with some help from her friends and family, maybe Sophie will come home after all.

This is a notebook novel for younger readers; 1st-2nd graders are the ideal audience. Zemke's scratchy black and white pictures decorate each page, sometimes taking over a whole spread, sometimes confined in individual panels. Bea is a relatable character; she loves to draw, Spanish phrases and words are sprinkled into the text, she finds her little brother Pablo annoying but still loves him anyways.

As an adult, I find Bert's mean behavior bordering on bullying and the clueless adults, who keep trying to push them together, a little annoying. Yes, sometimes Bea is not as nice as she might be to Bert, but he is really nasty to her! Her parents aren't particularly sympathetic either, trying to make her be "nice" to a kid who's basically pretty nasty. I'd separate them completely instead of trying to make them work together, but I'm not a teacher or a parent.

Verdict: This is a popular series in my library, especially for kids who would like to read popular notebook novels but aren't quite old enough yet. I also appreciate the inclusion of a Latina character.

ISBN: 9780735229389; Published July 2018 by Dial; Review copy provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library

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