Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Major Eights: Battle of the Bands by Melody Reed, illustrated by Emilie Pepin

This is the first book in a new(ish) beginning chapter series from little bee. It introduces a diverse group of girls, Jasmine, Maggie, Becca, and Scarlet, and focuses on a different girl in each story. This book focuses on Jasmine, who is Asian-American. She and her friends have a band together - Scarlet sings, Becca plays the guitar, and Maggie the drums. Their band is make-shift (the keyboard doesn't work and Becca can't read music) but they have fun together. Until Jasmine's older brother taunts her about not being in a real band. In an effort to prove herself, she signs her friends up for a Battle of the Bands. But they're the only eight year olds, everyone else is a lot older, they don't know what they're playing, and she didn't tell her friends she was signing them up! Things get more and more convoluted, until Jasmine has to decide if her friendship or winning is more important to her (not that they can actually win, but going ahead and actually playing I guess).

The resolution is a bit of wish-fulfillment - they play a little ditty they made up together, naming themselves the Major Eights for their age, and get an honorable mention. There are seven books planned so far in the series, so various characters must make multiple appearances. I know in the next Scarlet, the African-American singer, gets a solo gig and I would guess it endangers their friendship. The black and white illustrations are fine, if not stand-out and it's little bee's slightly smaller paperback size.

Verdict: There are a lot of these "diverse groups doing stuff" series and I'm not sure this one will be interesting to my audience since it seems to focus heavily on music and performance. I'll probably test it in a book club first.

ISBN: 9781499805642; Published January 2019 by little bee; Borrowed from another library in my consortium


Ms. Yingling said...

There are a LOT of these diverse group books, almost always with girl characters. Usually, the Caucasian girl has red hair. I understand why his is does, but it's reached trope level.

Jennifer said...

Yeahhh, I'm thinking... why not an all-black group? Or a bunch of Latinas? I mean, my town isn't SUPER diverse and the kids all hang out together anyways but... just seems like they have a checklist or something.