Review Detail

Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0

A Classic that Holds Up Well

Judy is starting 3rd grade, and she is not pleased about it. Her family didn't go anywhere over the summer, so she doesn't have a souvenir t shirt to wear, only a self-styled, hand-made "I ate shark" one. She's glad to be with her best friend, Rocky, but she is not pleased to be in the same class with Frank. Frank has been known to eat paste and pays a lot of attention to Judy, which she doesn't appreciate. He even has the gall to invite her to his birthday party, although she neglects to tell her parents about this. Just is also in a bad mood because she frequently has to take her younger brother, Stink, along with her on her outings, and she also has a long term project for school. The "Me Collage" is a lot of work, and while Judy tries to do a good job on it, she is sometimes forgetful. She completes it in time, but when her father and Stink volunteer to bring it to school on a rainy day, disaster occurs. Will this cause another bad mood, or is Judy learning to deal a little bit better with life?

Good Points
I was very surprised that my older daughter never read this series, since she would have been seven when it was published in 2000. It also was a possibility that the series would seem dated, but it has held up delightfully. Third graders generally don't have as much technology as older students, so their concerns are more timeless and low tech!

McDonald skillfully addresses issues that are important to children but seem unimportant to adults. What's the big deal about going to a birthday party? Plenty! Judy is dismayed that she is the only girl in attendance, but discovering that she and Frank have some shared interests soon makes them friends. Judy is also understandably concerned about getting her project on the bus in the rain, but also doesn't quite trust someone else to bring it... with good reason! Even her bad moods are very typical of children who are trying to be independent but still need a lot more help than they would like.

Judy has a long series of books now, as does her brother, and they appear in early chapter books as well as beginning readers. Stink and Judy join a long line of realistic fiction about feisty, amusing characters such as Barrows' Ivy and Bean, Parks' Junie B. Jones, Warner's Alfie and Ellray and English's Niki and Deja, Yee's Bobby the Brave and Zemke's Bea Garcia.
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