Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Best Friends: isn't that what it's all about?

Nikki & Deja: Birthday Blues, by Karen English
New York, NY: Clarion Books, 2009.
ages 7 - 9, grades 2 - 4

Mallory on the Move, by Laurie Friedman
Minneapolis, MN : Carolrhoda Books, 2004.
ages 7 - 9, grades 2 - 4

Chapter books for kids blossoming into fluent readers are a special treat. Here are two books especially for girls in 2nd, 3rd and maybe 4th grade. They're both about how important friends are - especially when you're 8 and 9. I find that kids this age really like reading about characters they can relate to.

Nikki & Deja are third graders, best friends living next door to each other. Deja can't stop thinking about her birthday party, and Nikki tries to be patient and helpful. But just before her birthday, Deja's aunt leaves on a business trip and Deja has to stay with an eldery neighbor - who cooks turnips and watches a black & white TV! Deja's nemisis from school, Antonia, threatens to ruin Deja's party by throwing her own "just because" party on the same day. Will Deja's party turn out OK -- or will it be the worst birthday ever?

This is a great book in so many ways. Most importantly, I could see myself in all of Deja's dilemmas. I think kids will really relate to how hard it is to feel outdone by a kid at school who's out to get all the other kids to come to her party instead of yours. But also, I'm so happy to have found a book for 2nd and 3rd graders with African American main characters. It's so important to be able to share with our kids books with all different characters - especially ones they can relate to.

Take a peek at Nikki & Deja (the first in the series) on Google Books Limited Preview. Find the first in the series at the Oakland Public Library. Also available from Amazon.

Mallory, in Mallory on the Move, is just about to move to a new town, away from her best friend. Moving stinks, especially when Mallory's big brother Max torments her at every turn, and when she has to leave Mary Ann, her best friend in the whole world. But Mallory does end up making a new buddy - Joey - breaking the biggest rule she had for herself: do not make friends with a boy.

What I liked most about this book was how spunky and happy Mallory was. Even though she was angry about moving, she figured out a way to keep telling jokes and to make new friends. Take a peek at the book on Google Books Limited Preview. Find the book at the Oakland Public Library or the Berkeley Public Library. Also available in paperback through Amazon.

Best of all, both of these books are part of on-going series. If your kid likes them, there are more to read!

Both books were purchased through one of my favorite independent bookstores - specifically for children: The Storyteller, in Lafayette, CA.


  1. Sounds good for the younger ages. My daughter is nine now and having to read Mark Twain award books. I read one and looked at the discription on the others. They are very involved, at much higher level. But my child still like to go back and read the Treehouse books despite the fact that they are now way below her reading level.

    DW Golden
    Soar with Fairies in Purple Butterflies, a new young adult novel now available at

  2. Thanks for the comment. Try searching my blog for "ages 8 - 12". Your daughter might have fun with Savvy or Rapunzel's Revenge.

    Let me know which of the Mark Twain Award books she likes best. I have heard good things about Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters.

  3. Thanks for posting about Nikki and Deja, what a great find! I'm going to update your Mr. Linky so it points directly to this review.

    Poking around the internet, I found a nice interview of Karen English posted last year on The Brown Bookshelf.

    I'm Ali_Worducopia on Glue, and I'm following you, I hope.