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Publisher: Yearling, an Imprint of Random House Children's Books,
Summary: Mitchell McCabe isn't sure he likes his new school. But he knows he doesn't like his tattletale sister, Angel. He didn't want to be part of the Zigzag kids after school program, but Angel gave the form to Mom, so here he was. When Mrs. Katz explained Prize Day, Mitchell knew he was the odd man out, because he never won anything ... and he wasn't good at anything, either. How much fun is that going to be? This is the first book in an early chapter series centered around 12 kids and an after school center.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book, learning to read, developing reader
Recommended Age: read together: 7 to 10; read yourself: 7 to 12
Interest Level: 8 to 10
Reading Level: 2.5
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: My thoughts on this one are mixed. I like the story and the message, I also love the diversity of the group and the way the author lets the kids define themselves. She doesn't make a big deal about culture or race. I found myself wondering, though, if keeping up with 12 characters was too much for a developing reader.
Pros: Kids - particularly those in a new school, who are wary of 'camps', or with an older sibling - will easily see themselves in this story. The story has potential for upper-elementary kids who need/want practice with reading.
Cons: There is a lot of action, several subplots, and a lot of characters. It could overwhelm some readers.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a book that could easily grab your child or it may overwhelm them.
Educational Themes: There are a number of subthemes in this book that would make for good discussions ... particularly a peer book club.
Notes: This publisher sent a copy of this book as part of the 2010 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Award (Cybils) process. This review is not intended to represent the opinions of the Cybils. The book will be donated to a reader in need.