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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Friendship Novels for Grades 1 to 7

Disclosure: I was sent these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

It can be tough being young. Friendships can change and people treat you differently than what you expect. And then there is peer pressure. Talk about stress!!  Today I am sharing five books about friendship and dealing with different issues. These books vary in the range of first grade to seventh grade. There are even some that are about a piece of history. We will start with the two for first grade through fourth. They are a bit of an easier read than the others. They are also part of The Fix-It Friends series from Macmillan Kids  by Nicole C. Kear with illustrations by Tracy DockrayThe Fix-It Friends is a group of friends that help others with problems that arise in regular life of kids. Veronica Conti is the self-claimed president. The group includes her older brother, Jude, and his best friend, Ezra, and Veronica's best friend, Cora. Each book in the series has the group helping someone through a problem. At the end of each book is a Fix-It Toolbox with strategies for dealing with the same issue. Today I am sharing books five and six. The first book today is Eyes on the Prize



In this book, Veronica is focused on winning a trophy. Everyone she knows has a trophy including her two-year-old sister, Pearl. Jude reminds her of the 100th day of school competition and how the winners get a trophy. Veronica is determined to win this year. Then she gets stuck with Matthew Sawyer in her group. Matthew is the boy in her class that annoys her the most. He is very disorganized and never has his work to turn in.  He seems unable to stay focused and perhaps even suffers from ADHD. He is the type of kid who annoys a rule following girl. How are they going to win the trophy with him in the group? Well, the Fix-It Friends work together and help Matthew get himself organized and even help him stay a bit more focused. 

I love how this story is so much about everyday life. I know kids like Veronica and Matthew. I also love that it gives techniques to help solve disorganization issues. It also shows friends working together and learning to be kind to one another. Something our world really needs right now!!

The sixth book in the series is Three's a Crowd. This book deals with feeling left out. There is a new girl in the class and Veronica's best friend, Cora, was assigned to show her around. Cora and Margot seem to be becoming besties and Veronica is feeling really left out. She tries different things to get her friend back but they backfire and Veronica and Cora end up in a huge fight. Will they ever be friends again? 

The toolbox in this book is for when friendships change. It can be very hard when a best friend all of a sudden wants to play with someone else and spend more time with that person. Again I love how entertaining these books are and how they deal with problems that many kids have and help solve them. The books also normalize the problems. It allows the reader to realize that he or she is not the only one going through the problem. This is a wonderful series. I really want to check out the other four books now. I think this series is one that should be in every classroom grades one to three. 


Our next book is Best Buds Under Frogs by Leslie Patricelli. It is recommended for grades 2 to 5. It deals with the issues of being the new girl at school. In this book extremely shy Lily has just moved to a new town. She is not happy. She misses her old school and now has to try to fit in at this new more traditional school. Add to it that her mother doesn't take seriously her  (or her younger sister's) complaints of her stomach ache on the first day and yes the embarrassing thing happens. She vomits during recess. Talk about making a first impression!! After that the only person who seems to want to talk to her is Darby, but Darby is loud and likes to make jokes about her. She isn't sure how she feels about Darby. But eventually she grows to like Darby and understand her more and they become best friends. It ends up Darby's best friend had moved to London so she was feeling a bit put out. Next though guess who returns from England. Now it is trying to figure out with whom Darby will be best friends. This book is full of the struggles of friendships and how life changes them.

I love how entertaining this book is. Darby is a character who loves to laugh and make people laugh and she definitely will have the readers laughing. It is a fun book about some serious issues kids experience in their friendship and shows how they happen to everyone and how to get through them. I really enjoyed this book and imagine kids in the middle grades will as well.

Our last two books are part of the Friendship Dolls Series from Candlewick Press by Shirley Parenteau. These books share different aspects of the historical story of the thousands of dolls sent to Japan and the Japanese dolls sent to the United States in hope of bringing friendship and peace between the countries prior to World War II. They are recommended for grades 3 to 7. The books are historical fiction. To see photos of two of the dolls check here. And for a little history of the dolls.

The first book is Ship of Dolls. This book is set in the 1920s. Lexie is living with her paternal grandparents in Portland, Oregon. Lexie's father died in a car accident. Her mother has remarried and she and her new husband perform in nightclubs. Her new husband doesn't think this is how to raise a child and her mother has sent her to live with her grandparents, but Lexie just wants to be with her mom. Lexie's sixth grade classroom has saved its pennies to purchase one of the friendship dolls to send to Japan. The girls are very excited. There is also a contest to write a letter to go with their class's doll, Emily Grace, to Japan and the rumor is the prize for the contest is to accompany the doll to the big send off in San Francisco where Lexie's mother is performing. Lexie has to win so she can see her mother again and this time stay with her. 

This novel shares so many aspects of life and history. There is issues of family and love and dependability. There are the issues of friends and growing up as well as the teasing and bullying that come with it. There are issues of different values between generations and different parenting styles. Plus there is the story about the friendship dolls. What the goal of these dolls was and how it came about. 


The final book in the series is Dolls of War. This book shares the story of what happened to some of the Japanese dolls after the war broke out in America. Pearl Harbor was bombed and people began to distrust anything Japanese. This book is set in 1941 in Oregon. Macy James lives with her father and older brother. Her mother has recently died of a long drawn out illness. Her mother however spent part of her childhood in Japan. Her father worked for the U.S. Embassy. She loved Japan and the people she met there. Macy and her mother spent hours in the museum where her father is curator talking to Miss Tokyo, one of the Japanese Friendship Dolls. However after Pearl Harbor is bombed there are people in town who want to destroy the doll. Can Macy save it? 

This book shares the life of the dolls during the war. Many of the friendship dolls were destroyed on both sides. However some were saved by girls who loved them. This book also shares the dangerous times of the war and how people change with the fear. It talks about a Japanese American girl and her family being sent to an interment camp. Macy actually has to go live with a couple on the coast for her own safety. There is also information about the sanctions and life during the War in the United States. The story itself is interesting and the history is fascinating. 

So five books about friendship and issues that can come up among them. I hope you will check them out.