Emma McKenna, Full Out (The Kids in Mrs. Z's Class #1)

 
4.5 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
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Emma McKenna, Full Out (The Kids in Mrs. Z's Class #1)
Author(s)
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
8+
Release Date
April 30, 2024
ISBN
152352572X
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Emma McKenna can’t wait for third grade at the brand-new Curiosity Academy. She’ll have a cool teacher who wears high-tops and science earrings. She’ll meet interesting classmates from all over Peppermint Falls. Best of all, she’ll get a fresh start after last year’s talent-show disaster left her with that awful nickname. It’s going to be the best year ever!

Then Lucy walks into Mrs. Z’s room.
Lucy, Emma’s best-friend-turned-enemy.
Lucy, who gave Emma that nickname and spread it all over school!
Emma’s fresh start is doomed . . . unless she can make friends before Lucy ruins everything.

So Emma sets out to be pals with everyone, just like her favorite animal, the capybara. As her classmates argue over the choice of a new school mascot, Emma stays quiet and doesn’t pick sides. (The last thing she needs is another enemy.) But maybe speaking up could be the thing that helps her really connect with her class—and saves her at last from third-grade doom.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Relatable and Humorous
(Updated: April 28, 2024)
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
5.0
Emma McKenna is the first in a new series featuring different authors giving voice to different students in the new third-grade class at Curiosity Academy. The events flowed at a nice pace over the course of the first few days of school. Emma was such a relatable character. She is nervous and excited to start at a new school. She has suffered from bullying and that has taken a toll on her self-confidence but with the support of her new friends and friendly staff she faces her fears of speaking in front of the school about her school mascot choice.
There were many humorous incidents throughout that endear us to Emma’s character. There is some drama potential when Lucy, her former best friend and bully ringleader from her old school, ends up being in her class. I liked that this book was lighthearted and did not become a drama-filled book. Not engaging in the drama had my daughter turning pages to find out why Emma considers Lucy her enemy. It does finally reveal the reason and does have a small encounter that is the start of a neutral existence between these former friends.
Overall, this was a fast-paced read with a few illustrations throughout keeping the Middle-Grade reader engaged. There were many relatable events, especially for anyone who has changed schools before. I like the focus on working together, finding your strengths, and finding alternatives to making competitions so that everyone can belong. I highly recommend this book, especially for reluctant readers, third graders, and anyone who has changed schools. This looks like a stellar author lineup and I like the story potential from diverse perspectives in the upcoming books of the series.
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Third Grade is an Adventure
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
4.0
Emma is excited to be starting Curiosity Academy, a brand new school in her Peppermint Falls community, where she will be in the third grade with the sneaker wearing Mrs. Zamora. Emma wants her new classmates to think she is interesting, so brings a lot of exuberance to the classroom... until she finds out that her nemesis from last year, Lucy, is attending the school as well. Emma has younger twin sisters, Abby and Mae, who are interested in daily celebrations like National Skyscraper Day, and Emma starts sharing these with her classmates. National Extra Dessert Day doesn't go well when she tries to give away a handful of gummy worms one at a time. People are understandably leery, and Emma ends up standing on a table to advertise her plan, which gets her in a little trouble, although Mrs. Z is very understanding and constructive in her reprimand. The school is trying to figure out a new mascot, with students researching different animals, and the third graders are all learning to play the recorder. One of their assignments is to play a song for other people. When the teacher announces a competition, with the student who has the most people listen winning candy, one student opines that this is divisive, and suggests that each student should play for ten people, and if the class meets their goal, everyone can get candy. Emma teams up with Rohan for the recorder playing, traveling around their neighborhood and serenading neighbors, but is apprehensive about getting up and giving a speech about her mascot choice, the capybara. Last year, in a disastrous talent show incident, she fell out with Lucy, who gave her the nickname "Bongo Butt" after a cheerleading wardrobe malfunction revealed bright yellow underwear with her dog's picture on them! Will Emma be able to overcome her anxiety and to come to an understanding with her former best friend?

Good Points
This is an interesting start to a series that will be written by a wide array of early middle grade authors. It's definitely school based, and embraces the same kind of format as Mills' Franklin School Friends or After School All-Stars books, with each new volume concentrating on a new character. The big difference is that the authors show a bit more diversity, which is reflected in the character on which they are focused. I love that the end of these lists the author's favorite thing about third grade, which is, after all, an awesome year!

Curiosity Academy is everyone's dream school, with student engagement and support, helpful teachers, and no evil administrators so far! We see just enough of Emma's family to understand her a little, which is important. Third grade is a time when children start to feel even more autonomous and develop personalities of their own. Still, family is critically important, so seeing the ice cream shop, Minnie's, that Emma's parents run, and her engaging four-year-old sisters, is helpful.

Series books are always a popular choice with emerging readers, and this slice-of-life look at students at Curiosity Academy, with illustrations by Kat Fajardo (Miss Quinces), will be embraced by readers who like to follow the antics of their favorite characters like Prior and Kissi's Emma Just Medium, Sheth's Nina Soni, Harley's Charlie Bumpers, Calandrelli's Ada Lace, and Kelly's Ballpark Mysteries and Football Mysteries.
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