Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, illustrated by Abby Carter, 56 pp, RL 1

Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbucke by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, pictures by Abby Carter, is such a perfect book for a new reader who has just begun to be a fluent reader. At fifty-six pages with great illustrations throughout, it is just the right length. There are four chapters in each book, with a story arc that progresses from beginning to end, unlike a Frog and Toad book where each chapter is an individual story. Like the chapter books for more advanced readers, this book gives new readers the chance to try their skills on something a little longer with a slightly more complex story line than the average early reader book.

The plot of the book is very timely for emerging readers - school and socialization. Andy Shane, who lives with Granny Webb, gets along in this world just fine, unless Dolores Starbuckle is around to tell him what he is doing wrong. Andy Shane is a shy, observant boy who doesn't like being the center of attention, especially for the negative reasons Dolores keeps pointing out. Wonderful descriptions of the class room, Morning Meeting, math center and interactions with the teacher, Ms Janice, are simply but well written. When Dolores' attitude becomes too much, Andy Shane asks to stay home, but Granny Webb puts him on the bus anyway. When he walks into his classroom, Granny Webb is there helping out in the classroom. Dolores tries to boss Granny Webb, who is a bug expert and knows their Latin names, around as well. Granny Webb finds a way to get around Dolores and teach her a thing or two by having Andy Shane teach her something about bug names.

One of my favorite passages describes the relationship Granny Webb and Andy Shane have. "Andy Shane had lived with Granny Webb all his life. When he came into the world, he needed someone who could take good care of him. Granny Webb needed someone to share the fun of the hilly woods, salamanders, and stories with. So the two of them became a family. Just like that." This is a great representation of the Jaconson's straightforward writing and focus on connections between people, which is a lot from a book this short written at this reading level.

Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick, Andy Shane is Not in Love, Andy Shane and the Barn Sale Mystery and Andy Shane and the Queen of Egypt are available in paperback as well as the above book. Andy Shane, Hero at Last is available only in hardcover only right now.

Andy Shane, Hero At Last

Other books at this level your child might like are The Cool Crazy Crickets Series.

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