Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review - Just Grace by Charise Mericle Harper

Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
March 2008
137 pages
9 to 12 years

Synopsis - Grace loves cats. She also loves taking pictures of cats and drawing Not So Super comics. She doesn’t like Sammy Stringer, a boy in her class. She’s got lots and lots of ideas, and when her neighbor’s cat goes missing, Grace does her best to make Mrs. Luther feel less lonely. But as the mystery of the missing cat continues, Grace’s well intentioned plan backfires, and she finds herself in a bit of trouble. Maybe, just maybe, Sammy Stringer will help her through.

My seven year old daughter and I picked up this book on a whim. She was looking for something similar to the Junie B. Jones series and well, we came across a well written, hilarious book sprinkled with these silly, little cartoon sketches.

The first in a series of now five books, Just Grace introduces the protagonist, Grace, and her surroundings. From the very beginning my daughter and I loved Grace's characterization because she was nicknamed "Just Grace" by her teacher as a way to identify her from the other three Graces in her class.

As you read on, you realize that Grace is a curious third grader who has a natural sense of adventure. She also has a self admitted super-power, "I can always tell when someone is unhappy, even if that person is pretending to be happy and is a really good actor".

I have to admit that my favorite part of the story was the fact that she had to join forces with her nemesis, Sammy, in order to solve the mystery of the missing cat, Crinkles. Harper captures Grace's witty sense of humor perfectly and her characters leap off the page.

The new book, Just Grace and the Snack Attack (released December 2009) promises:

After reading this new book about Just Grace you will know how to . . .
1. turn your favorite potato chips into a tasty chipwich.
2. draw and fold up your very own zine, which is a cool little book made from only one piece of paper.
3. look for and use the special powers of the wish chip.

This book will not help you know how to . . .
1. do fancy hairstyles for your cat.
2. make a flower garden in your room.
3. bake a four- or even five-layer cake.
But this book might make you feel a little bit hungry, and if it does, then you will know you are having a "snack attack" just like Grace!
The Just Grace series is definitely for children who love the precocious adventures of Junie B. Jones, Judy Moody and Clementine. My daughter and I read them out loud, taking turns with each chapter and learning how to emote through Grace's funny dialogue.


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~