Sunday, June 19, 2011

Early Reader Series: Katie Woo (by Fran Manushkin)

I am like a moth to the light when it comes to bright colors.  When I walked by the display table at the library last week, I was immediately drawn to a new early reader series:  Katie Woo.  Little girls will love the vibrant, multi-colored book covers in pinks, purples, greens, and yellows showing an Asian-American young girl confronting typical childhood situations.  The series is multi-cultural, depicting Latinos, Asians, African-Americans, and Caucasians.  Each book is broken up into three small chapter, allowing youngsters to feel like they are reading “chapter books.”  Author Fan Manushkin uses vocabulary ideal for early readers to help them navigate through the grade school years dealing with issues like bullies, moving, bossiness, sleepovers, lying, and much more.  The illustrations by Tammie Lyon are appealing and colorful.  They focus on the characters by illustrating the text in snapshots contrasting with a mostly white background. Teachers and parents will appreciate that each book includes a glossary of less familiar words (with pronunciation hints), discussion questions, writing prompts, and a fun Katie Woo activity.   I recommend this series for ages 5-8. 

Highlighted today are three of the currently twelve books in the Katie Woo series.

Moving Day  
Katie's parents assure her that she will love her new home, but she has mixed feelings about moving.   To help her transition, she writes a letter to the new girl who will live in her room, wishing her well.   When her father describes some of the features of their next home, Katie is concerned.  Her experience initially limits her understanding of what a whirlpool tub or a sunken living room is, but she is relieved to see her fears were for naught.  As the family moves in and resumes their normal rituals, Katie begins to feel at home.  To Katie’s surprise and glee, she finds a note from the last young girl in her new room.  She realizes that she is going to have a great time there. 

Boss of the World 
Katie is spending the day at the beach with her family and friends, Pedro and Jojo.   While making a sand castle, Katie delegates all the “working” jobs to her friends and the “fun” ones for herself.  Then, she greedily eats the majority of their shared snack.  Katie is not concerned about the wants and needs of others, even when they express them to her.  As the day continues, Katie monopolizes the only vacant swing and lays on the entire blanket during rest time. The final straw is when she selfishly snatches a shell Jojo is attempting to pick up.   Her friends walk away and begin an activity on their own.   Katie sees them having fun, so she wants to join.  They agree, but not before they help her realize how her bossiness is negatively affecting them.

Katie trips, falls, and hurts herself on the way to school.  As she begins to cry, classmate Roddy Rogers calls her a “cry baby.” His teasing causes her to cry even harder!  Once he sees the affect of his teasing, Roddy continues to torment Katie at recess and a lunch.  She yells at him, tells him to stop, and even makes ugly faces at him.  Roddy loves the attention though.  Katie doesn’t know what to do to make him stop.  Then, one day she is so captivated during a class activity that she completely ignores his teasing.  He becomes so mad that he inadvertently injures himself.  Katie realizes the secret:  Ignore the teasing, and the teasing will stop. 

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