________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003


Fuzz, the Famous Fly. (Solo Reading).

Emily Rodda. Illustrated by Tom Jellett.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 1999/2002.
51 pp., pbk., $4.50.
ISBN 0-439-98885-3.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Lisa Sykes.

**1/2 / 4


The man lifted the camera and the woman smiled.

"That's nice," said Fuzz to himself. "She likes me." He did a little dance and buzzed a song in the woman's ear, to show that he liked her too.

The woman waved and clapped.

"Hold still," called the man, so Fuzz did.

Click! The man took a picture.

Fuzz finished his toast and flew away, not knowing that this day was going to change his life.

Fuzz, the Famous Fly is a title in Scholastic's new "Solo Reading" series which is aimed at newly independent readers. The series introduces children to the concept and format of chapter books.

     Fuzz is an unusual main character as he is a fly who resides with his family and friends in a garbage can in a park. One day, Fuzz ends up in a photo with a woman who visits the park. A few days later, Fuzz becomes famous when the other flies recognize his picture on the front page of the newspaper. A Fuzz Fan Club is formed, and Fuzz is kept busy signing autographs and buzzing around the many visitors at the park who, he assumes, are there to see him. Fuzz's granny confirms that he is a star and says that he should share his talent with the world. As a result, he leaves the park for life in the entertainment world and appears in television ads, shows, movies and newspaper photos. Fuzz finds his new life exciting, but he misses the other flies. One day, Fuzz is inside a van which is going to film a commercial at a park. Happily, Fuzz recognizes the park as his home and is reunited with his fly family and friends. Fuzz decides that fame is fine but being happy at home is even better.

     The story of Fuzz, the Famous Fly is broken into five chapters, and each chapter ends on a suspenseful note encouraging the young reader to read on. Most pages contain two or three sentences, and the vocabulary consists of many high-usage words along with some new ones such as: gutter, squashed, camera, knowing, visitor and muttered.

     As earlier mentioned, the main character and storyline are quite original, and young readers will no doubt find it intriguing to consider life from a fly's perspective. They may, however, find some of the sentences confusing if they take them literally. Example: "The visitors waved and clapped. They loved him." Older readers would comprehend that the humans in the story are, in fact, "shooing" him away and are actually annoyed by his presence. A newly independent reader may not have the comprehension skills to "read between the lines." The length and pace of the story are appropriate for the intended audience.

     Tom Jellet's drawings accompany Rodda's story and help to bridge the gap for children between picture books and chapter books. While the cover illustration is brightly coloured, all other drawings are black and white in keeping with the chapter book format. The characters are animated, and the scenes contain much action which readers will enjoy. The dark shading in many of the illustrations, however, makes it difficult to appreciate a lot of the details.

     Overall, new readers will have fun meeting Fuzz. They will no doubt be proud to place their bookmarks at the end of each chapter and will be entertained while increasing their reading confidence. Note: The back of the book contains a statement both from the author and illustrator concerning the theme of the story. Students and parents may both find it interesting to read.


Lisa Sykes has worked as an early years teacher and a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB, and has recently moved with her family to Barrie, ON.

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

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