Judy Moody and Friends: Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Erwin Madrid, 60 pp, RL 2

Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble is the first of two books in a new beginning reader series featuring some old favorites, Judy Moody and Friends! The Judy Moody series, which is roughly a 3rd grade reading level, debuted in 2000 and Stink, the series featuring Judy's little brother, written at a low 2nd grade level, appeared in 2005. Good books written at a 3rd grade reading level are hard to come by, and chapter books like Stink that are a bit of an easier read than Magic Tree House were double rare until last year. Now, McDonald is bringing her beloved cast of characters to newly independent readers in this new series.

Jessica Finch loves pigs and, with her birthday approaching, she is desperate to know if her parents have purchased that pot bellied pig she has been asking for. Jessica invites Judy over to her house to help search for presents but the girls only turn up a board game with pigs that they end up opening and playing. But, a few twists and turns, some Pig Latin and UN-friendings later, Jessica gets her surprise and finds out that Judy was in on it all along. Jessica's pig is named and a new club as Jessica A. Finch finds herself in pig heaven.

McDonald's story is sweet and simple, perfect for new readers. The Pig Latin and handful of made up words and names may give readers pause, but Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble is worth the effort. In a time when it seems like t.v. and movie tie-ins are clogging the shelves for emerging readers, it is nice to see new books that are thoughtful and well written. Erwin Madrid's illustrations are a wonderful, colorful compliment to those of Peter H. Reynolds, who illustrates the Judy Moody and Stink series.

The Judy Moody and Friends Series

Source: Review Copy

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