Sunday, November 4, 2007

Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw

YES! YES! YES! Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth Barshaw is just what I have been looking for! It is a mix between a journal, diary, and possibly graphic novel (?) might be stretching it). It is JUST RIGHT for my readers who aren't quite sure of themselves as readers and maybe not sure they even really like books.
The quick read was funny without being goofy, and serious without being annoying.
The main character, Ellie, is sent on a trip with her younger brother, three cousins, and her aunt and uncle. She is less than thrilled to be trapped in a car with the group, and even less thrilled to be "camping" with them. Ellie records all of this in her journal with blow-by-blow commentary and drawings. Her cousin Eric is forever trying to get his hands on her journal, and finally succeeds. Ellie eventually finds out she has more in common with the rest of the family than she originally expected.
What I most liked about this book was the humor. It was not "potty" humor, it was not "dumbed down" humor, and it was not "over the heads of children" humor. This is the very thing that bugs me about books aimed at this level of reading experience. Notice I didn't say age, because I think the age could vary from 3rd to 5th grade depending upon their reading experience. (Of course that being more experienced 3rd grade to less experienced 5th grade readers.) And I don't care what age or sex your talking about, all kids love books with funny pictures. Especially appealing to my students is any book that does not take very long to read.
For a first children's book, Ruth McNally Barshaw really knows what she is doing. She has pegged her target audience perfectly! What will Ellie's next adventure be? It is soon to be announced right here!
Other reviews:
A Year of Reading
Becky's Book Reviews
Ellie McDoodle's own blog!

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