Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship
By Cynthia Platt
Illustrations by Rea Zhai
Parker Bell is super excited. Today is going to be the biggest science announcement at school ever. She loves everything about science and cannot wait to grow up to be a famous scientist like one of her science heroes. Jane Goodall, famous for her work with gorillas and Mae Jamison, the amazing astronaut are her two favorites. She has pictures of them in her bedroom, which doubles as her Mad Science Lab. She loves making things like the automatic feeder for her guinea pig, Algebra. But sometimes gets in trouble with her experiments. One time she took the toaster apart to see how it worked and couldn’t put it back together.
Soon the best day ever turned sour from the start. Why is Theo sitting in her seat on the bus instead of her best friend Cassie? She hasn’t liked Theo since he messed up an experiment in class with her and she got the lowest points ever. The science announcement doesn’t happen until the very end of the school day. And then, they announce that three kids have to be on a team for the Science Triathlon instead of two. Why can’t it be just her and Cassie, they would crush it. But now what will happen now that Cassie adds Theo to the team without even asking her?
The three children will have to get along to win this competition, but Theo will hardly speak to Parker. Strangely, he talks to Cassie all the time. Is Parker going to lose her best friend? She is determined to not only win the Triathlon, but also run a side experiment to see if she can become a better friend with Theo in the process.
This chapter book has great ideas and lessons for grade school kids. It encourages science, friendship and learning. The examples of great scientists such as Goodall and Jamison will spark further interest and discussions with your child. There are nods to sharing, not always coming in first as well as recycling. Youngsters will also enjoy the guinea pig and chicken facts. The overall information at just the right level for a chapter book is perfect.
I hope Ms. Platt plans to bring back Parker and her friends. A new series starring these characters would delight me as well as countless kids and the adults that care about them.
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman.
Right Handed Lefty
By Ryan Coughlin
DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.
Twelve year old Native American Ellis Sayer is different from other kids. He knows he is different and feels as though no one really wants him. Orphaned as a baby, he was adopted by a family that returned him. Now he lives with Marty and Suzanne who adopted him to fill the void in their lives that was created when their son died.
Ellis has two friends. Both of them are quirky but they get by a bit better than he does. Like other teens Ellis falls for a girl that currently hates him, and she is the cousin of one of his two only friends. The lives of the three boys turn upside down after an incident at school. They band together for a noble cause that pits them against an evil man that holds the power to destroy them. Now they only have each other to depend on in the life and death situation life that has been thrust upon them. They feel the only available option is flight.
Ellis is an interesting character. He is trying his best to fit in. He knows he is different and that the other kids don’t like him. He just tries to keep his head down and not get hurt. He breaks my heart for all of the kids that don’t feel like they fit in. This amazing YA novel will have you cheering for the misfits. Against all odds they must work together with a clear plan to accomplish their goal of staying alive.
Coughlin’s first novel is captivating. The parallel story lines of a Native American from years ago struggling with his identity and Ellis struggling with fitting in are expertly woven together to create a beautiful story. He addresses racism, the ostracizing of people who are different and acceptance of the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. He helps the reader realize that love can’t cure all evils but it helps make the evils a bit less painful.
Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman