CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 4. . . .September 28, 2012
Thus Judy and her family set off on their adventure to see, firsthand, the location of these historic events that led up to the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. While touring these sites, Judy makes friends with a young British tourist, Victoria. This pairing provides a nice balance to the story and introduces some fun British vernacular. Further word play is introduced when characters make up variations on the sayings of Benjamin Franklin. Victoria lives a life seemingly full of independence and privilege. Judy wishes her parents would allow her the same privileges, and this situation sets up the conflict in the story. She attempts to prove she is worthy of an increased allowance and other opportunities by making her bed, combing her hair and doing her homework without being told. This behaviour does not produce the desired results, and Judy goes back to her old ways. When a packet of tea arrives from Victoria in England, Judy sets up a tea party of her own in the family bathtub. This happening, naturally, is fun while it lasts, but it does not go over well with Judy's parents. Ultimately, Judy proves her maturity, helping save her brother, Stink, when he falls asleep on the school bus. She is rewarded with an increase in allowance and a new level of respect.
McDonald has her fingers firmly planted on the pulse of the grade three mind: vocabulary, word play, mischievous activity, the gentle misunderstandings and priorities of a elementary school child. Her inclusion of a female historical heroine, Sybil Ludington, adds interest and dimension to the tale..
Peter Reynolds illustrations come at just the right moments, heightening the fun and capturing the innocence and delight of the characters. Reynolds also has the pulse of the intended age group as his drawings remind me of caricatures my grade four daughter creates.
Despite these titles being almost a decade old, they feel current, and the humour, sibling rivalry and shenanigans of the characters still hit the mark. For libraries who do not yet have Judy Moody Declares Independence as part of their collection, its purchase would be money well-spent. Families will also enjoy the characters who are amazingly well-drawn given the brief text and simple vocabulary. The publisher recommends these titles for ages 6 to 9. I think this audience range could be expanded upwards for readers who are challenged as the fun of the text is not pedantic, and downwards as Judy Moody Declares Independence would make a fun read-aloud.
Ruth McMahon is an Alberta-based professional librarian working in a middle school with daughters in middle and elementary school.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.