If you read my review of Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, you know how that I am newly and very pleasantly surprised by Megan McDonald, a well loved author who has definitely left her mark on the world of children's books with her Judy Moody series. But what I will remember and value her for most is the brilliance of the her Stink series, which is will appeal to boys and is superlative among books written at this reading level, a level for emerging readers that serves as a bridge between leveled readers and traditional chapter books.
My favorite parts of Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker involve idioms, which are being taught to Stink by his 2nd grade teacher Ms. Dempster, and the power of letter writing, the formal structure of which is also being taught in school. As I mentioned in my review of Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid, the kids in Ms. Dempster's class are always writing, which I think is fantastic! When he purchases what he considers to be a faulty jawbreaker, Stink writes a letter of complaint to the candy manufacturer. To his great joy and surprise, the company sends him a complimentary ten pound box of 21,280 jawbreakers for his trouble. This immediately inspires Stink to write several more hilarious letters of complaint that net him even more candy, toys and other assorted goodies.
McDonald has a few other plot threads working, one of which involves glow-in-the-dark bacon and egg pajamas, a misplaced birthday party invitation, an accidental punch in the head to Stink's best friend Webster, and a really excellent use for all the swag Stink accumulates. As usual, McDonald does some great classroom story telling, this time involving the coolest pajama day ever. I have seen a few pajama days in my time, usually in kindergarten, but never one that, in addition to the usual stuffed animals and parades, included a spooky story time with drums.
The best part of this book, besides all the candy - and who doesn't love creative writing about candy??? - is the page of idioms at the end of the book. McDonald does a great job of weaving them throughout the story and is thoughtful enough to list 37 of them. I was fascinated by idioms as a teenager and tried, feebly, to make my own list (this was before the wealth of information to be found online.) This made me question making them an integral part of a book intended for second graders, but, I am all for throwing concepts like this at kids at an early age because I am all about the written word and where it can take you!
The Stink Series:
Readers who enjoyed this book might also like:
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon
Sticky Burr by John LechnerThe Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman
Stuart Goes to School by Sarah Pennypacker
Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and The Great One by Judy Blume