Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books
Jane Godwin’s delightful new series for your younger readers, venturing on their independent reading journeys will, I predict, be a huge hit. These kiddos are always enthralled with stories which mirror their own doings, likes and dislikes, worries and joys, and, of course, family and friends.
Isabelle is an only child who lives with her Dad. She has a best friend Harry B, and a cat, Steve, plus a baby cousin called Bibi. As happens in many classes in schools all over, there are some double-ups (and even triple-ups!) of names but Isabelle loves being the only one with her name. Then Isobel arrives, and even with a different spelling, Isabelle feels somehow threatened, especially as new Isobel is very loud and in-your-face which can be rather confronting for a shyer child.
These four stories in one volume explore Isabelle working through making friends with Izzy, something which definitely has some trickier moments. These will provide some perfect fodder for class discussions about friendships, getting along and the dynamics in different families.
Isabelle’s suspicion that Izzy has stolen a precious possession and the awkwardness that ensues is a great example of how these stories will enhance classroom circle time conversations by examining how to handle such situations and, indeed, how to both apologise and accept apologies graciously. Given Isabelle’s own family situation, it’s little wonder she’s also a little bit intimidated by Izzy’s teenaged half-sisters and it takes a little while to overcome her anxiety with this – a great bit of growth and learning there to take into a group discussion. Whether it is something big or something small, these are stories with which your younger readers can easily make connections to self.
There are some extensive teaching notes to accompany this and while I can understand that the bibliography at the end of these seems to focus on series/titles with girl titular/main characters, it would be good to keep in mind that there are also several such series with boy protagonists in the lead – albeit, all of these have a combination of both genders in their narratives.
All in all, this is going to be a hit with those keen beans in Year 1 or Year 2 moving into their first ‘chapter books’. I give it a big thumbs up for these little guys from 6 years upwards.