________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 16. . . .December 21, 2012


Morgan Gets Cracking. (First Novels).

Ted Staunton.
Illustrated by Bill Slavin. Halifax, NS: Formac Publishing, 2012.
61 pp., pbk., hc., & Ebook, $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.), $4.95 (Ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4595-0074-7 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-4595-0075-4 (hc.)
ISBN 978-1-4595-0076-1 (Ebook).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Lisa Case.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



I start for the kitchen but then I see Aldeen's backpack by the door. It's even messier than Aldeen's hair, and a paper is sticking out of it. I can see part of a picture. Aldeen is good at art, so I sneak a peek. It's a pencil crayon drawing of a guy. He's pretty busy; I think he's supposed to be juggling and kicking a soccer ball at the same time and he's got a guitar strapped on and a superhero cape. He's wearing clothes like the ones Curtis had on. And he has Curtis's spiky yellow hair. And Oh no, I think it is Curtis.

I figured if Aldeen was going to draw him she'd give him horns and a tail. She made him a superhero. What's going on? Aldeen doesn't like Curtis, does she? How could she?

Besides, Aldeen doesn't like anybody. But imagine if they teamed up: Godzilla and Show-Off Man. The back of my neck goes as prickly as Curtis's hair. Aldeen can't like Curtis. Can she?

What happens if she does?


Morgan Gets Cracking is the 15th book in Ted Staunton's mini-novel series about Morgan and his grade three classmates. In this installment, readers are introduced to the new boy in class, Curtis. Morgan seems to be the only one that is not impressed by Curtis who is, apparently, a super star at everything he tries. Curtis really enjoys all of the attention too especially when it comes at the expense of others. The other children in the class think that Curtis is amazing. Even Aldeen, known as the "Queen of Mean", seems to be under his spell. Morgan finds this unbelievable since Aldeen does not like anyone. Morgan knows that Curtis is not what he seems. With some eggs and his best friend Charlie at his side, Morgan makes it his mission to show everyone that Curtis is not all he is cracked up to be.

internal art      Ted Staunton is a wonderful writer for young people. He is a Canadian author who has been writing for children of all ages since 1983. His books in the 'First Novels' series are entertaining and captivating. The black and white illustrations by Bill Slavin are drawn in a cartoon style which is perfect for this age group. The pictures help to tell the story and add depth to the characters.

      Morgan Gets Cracking is a story told through short, easy-to-read chapters, each accompanied by one or two of Slavin's illustrations. The short chapters and easy language make this book ideal for children just beginning to read chapter books. The story being told is one to which all children can relate, and it can be enjoyed by a variety of children. It is a funny story about a young boy and the lengths he is willing to go to show his nemesis, Aldeen, and the other children from grade three, the new kid's true colours. Staunton writes a lighthearted, entertaining story about the life of a child. Detailed illustrations help highlight the story's plot and tone, along with adding depth to a story that is full of fun. For children learning to read chapter books, and particularly for those that enjoy humorous tales, Morgan Gets Cracking is definitely a good choice. Since there is a whole series of Morgan books, children who enjoy this book can look forward to reading about other adventures with Morgan and his friends.

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Case is an elementary/junior high teacher-librarian from Calgary, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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