Saturday, May 23, 2015

‘Kelsey Green, Reading Queen’ by Claudia Mills

Book cover, Kelsey Green, Reading Queen. Illustration depicts a girl walking with her head upturned, looking into a book that she holds above her head with her left hand. She carries another book in her right hand.
In Kelsey Green, Reading Queen by Claudia Mills (Farrar, Straus and Girouz, 2013), third-grader Kelsey Green is determined to win recognition for being the top reader in her class and hold Mr. Boone, school principal, to his promise that he will shave off his beard if the students can read 2,000 books.

Like Kelsey, reading was the thing that I was good at when I went to school, and I thoroughly related to Mills’ heroine.

Kelsey’s competitive drive prompts her to look for the shortest, easiest books possible, within the boundaries of her teacher’s insistence that students must read books at a level appropriate to their abilities.

The only threat to Kelsey’s title is that classmate Simon Ellis is as good a reader as she is. Kelsey is obsessed with determining if Simon read all the books he said he did, to the point that she enlists her friends to help her spy on him.

The best part of this book concerns Kelsey’s tutoring of classmate Cody Harmon. At first, Kelsey’s motives are entirely competitive: she wants him to contribute his fair share to win a pizza party for their class.

In spite of what began with ulterior motivation, Cody goes from being someone who doesn’t want to read anything for the sheer difficulty involved, to someone whom Kelsey is confident can tackle increasingly difficult books — and perhaps even enjoy reading them. This development particularly gladdened me, given my own concern that reading not be work, that it be something that people enjoy.

Kelsey Green, Reading Queen is among recent arrivals in Bellview Elementary School library. It’s also first in a series introducing three Franklin School Friends. While Annika Riz, Math Whiz and Izzy Barr, Running Star aid Kelsey in her efforts, their own talents take center stage in the series’ second and third volumes.

1 comment:

  1. I thoroughly related to the heroine of "Kelsey Green, Reading Queen," especially to the assistance she gives to a reluctant-reader classmate.


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