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Lead by example. Let your children see you reading for pleasure in your spare time.
Summary: Chris Smith is a ten-year-old likes to figure out how things work. In fact, his nickname at home is Mr. Intensity. When his baby sister Rachel lost one of her socks for the umpty-umpth million time, he wanted to fix the problem. How can we make socks that stay on a baby's foot? Follow along as Chris learns that the answer to his question may be pretty important one! This is an illustrated adventure fantasy for pre-teens.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 6 to 10; read yourself: 8 to 12
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a story that mirrors the book itself. In addition to telling Chris' story of perseverance and discovery, the author sets the stage up front by telling us that the book we are holding is her work of perseverance, too. The book has great potential and offers kids a very positive message. It gets bogged down at times, though, and there are some things (like Chris misrepresenting himself in an email) that gave me pause.
Pros: Kids will immediately relate to Chris. This is a book that they could finish in one sitting. Reluctant or struggling readers will also find it engaging.
Cons: The book needs an editor to trim down some of the extraneous details. Also, Chris breaks the house rules and not only sends an email to a man at NuPont (hardly veiled reference) that he doesn't know, but misrepresents his age. The scene is resolved almost too quickly. Kids may be surprised when their parents aren't quite so forgiving if they did that.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The story moves along quickly, and there is a picture every 3 pages, which is good for remedial readers. Still, there are stronger books on youth discovery and entrepreneurship.
Educational Themes: There are a number of themes that can be drawn from the story: no question is too small; ideas evolve, and invention is a trial and error business; always dream big. You can also talk more about how the patent process works and discoveries related to the space program (both civilian research for space and space research with civilian application). There are also communication issues to address, including Internet safety.
Literary Categories: Fiction - adventure, fantasy
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