Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford 92pp RL 3
*feel free to skip to the review*
This is a very difficult review for me to write because, while I love the title and subject of this book, I don't think I really like the book itself. In general, I do not like books that have precocious girls as the main characters. By precocious I mean girls with attitude. I appreciate the "girl power" and individuality and creativity that these girls possess, but their bossiness, big ideas, proclivity for trouble, and sometimes incorrect use of the English language rubs me the wrong way. I really want to like these books because I think that they are trying to speak to kids/girls on their own level about their own experiences. But ultimately, I think that the real life experiences of 8,9 and 10 year olds are on the whole pretty boring and not book worthy and the authors supplement this with antics that don't ring totally true for me. That being said, I feel awful revealing my true feelings because, while I dislike most of the books I highlighted in my Precocious Girls as Protagonists post, I know that millions of girls love these characters and consider them to be personal friends, and I know that these characters probably aren't the bad influences that I sneakingly suspect them of being and I absolutely DO NOT want to prevent a book from making it's way into a child's hand if it means the child will actually read it and be a book lover someday. I know, I know, sometimes you can and should read for fun, it doesn't always have to be high minded literature with a capital L that one reads. And, really, the only real danger in letting your daughter read one of these books is if the series turns into a 30 book juggernaut like the Junie B Jones Series and you are stuck with a 5th grader who still wants to read 2nd grade level books, which is rare. So, please take what I say with a grain of salt and, if you have any concerns about the influences a character in a book might have on your daughter, I strongly suggest you read the book first. But I think you should try to read most of what your kids read anyway...
With Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little, Peggy Gifford mines a very rich vein when it comes to character flaws - procrastination. Moxy is nine and going to enter fouth grade on August 24. The book takes place on August 23rd as she attempts to finish Stuart Little, her assigned summer reading. The story follows Moxy as she procrastinates her way through the day, despite the consequences her mother has outlined for her, culminating with missing the Great Daisy Routine that she and seven other girls are performing at the "End of the Summer Splash" at the community pool. Her avoidance, along with her increasingly crazy ideas and plans, escalates as the hours pass. She is joined by as cast of characters that includes her twin brother Mark, who is teaching himself photography (having read Stuart Little on the first day of vacation) and his pictures of the events of the day are scattered throughout the book. There is also little sister Pansy, best friend/neighbor/minion to Moxy, the six year old Sam, as well as the dogs Rosie and Mudd.
As a parent, I admire Gifford's depiction of Moxy's mother. I found her to be very human as she struggled with disciplining, threatening and cajoling this child into reading the book. The photo of Martha Maxwell after discovering the destruction of her prized dahlia garden due to one of Moxy's schemes and delegation of the work to others is very read lookling. I am sure I've seen this woman at the grocery store or out infront of the school. I found Moxy to be sometimes funny and sometimes over the top. Her relationship with Sam and the way he did whatever she told him to, while also keeping track of her, and the fact that he was only six was a little strange to me. Also, it really bothered me that, as a nine year old, Moxy had a cell phone that she used for things other than emergencies. Aside from the photographs of documenting Moxy's day, which are pretty unique in the world of chapter books, are the chapters themselves. Each one is titled and no more than 3 -4 pages long, sometimes only one page, and the titles are often repeated in the first lines of the chapter. Chpater 7, which is titled, "In Which Moxy's Mother Says No," consists of the word, "No." This is entertaining for a while, but it got old pretty fast for me.
This series continues with Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-you Notes and will soon be joined by Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love PRacticing the Piano.