Thursday, May 9, 2019

The big idea gang: Everybody needs a buddy by James Preller, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

I've really liked some of Preller's books and I'm always looking for more beginning chapter books, but I had a hard time seeing kids pick this up; it's just too didactic.

This is the second book in the series; in the first book, four third graders formed the "Big Idea Gang" to get a cooler school mascot. In this second book, the third graders are chatting over lunch about their favorite parts of the day when they hear some interesting news; the PTA has a big surplus of money from selling the merchandise of their new mascot and is going to spend it on something for the school! The kids throw around some vague ideas, but meanwhile Deon notices a new boy who stays by himself and looks lonely. At the same time, their teacher gives them some important lessons on gossip. Then she tells them the PTA has decided to give the money to the library, to buy new books. The kids are disappointed that they didn't get to even suggest the idea they finally decided on; a buddy bench. But working together and with some help from various teachers and parents, they get their big idea. The benches are exciting at first, but then life goes back to normal. Even so, the kids still use the benches when they need them.

I appreciated the depiction of the librarian explaining why she had to get rid of old, outdated books and teachers will surely be able to use these to teach lessons on gossip, persuasive writing and speaking, and the importance of being kind. However, this... just wasn't very interesting. It didn't have a hook like a mystery and there was little to no action.

Verdict: If you're just looking for filler or teachers want a classroom book to read together to focus on social-emotional development this would be fine, but it's not a story that I can see kids grabbing off the shelf.

ISBN: 9781328857194; Published January 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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