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Summary: Janelle is waiting for an important piece of mail: an invitation to Chelsea's birthday party. When it doesn't arrive, Janelle confronts her friend, and ends up spoiling a surprise party. Embarrassed and upset, Janelle must decide how to handle the situation. Should she tell Chelsea's mother what happened? This is an illustrated story with life lessons for young readers.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book, learning to read
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 7 to 10
Interest Level: 6 to 9
Reading Level: 2
Age of Child: Started reading with 6-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: Our daughter requested that we read this story together several times. When we asked what she liked about the story, she explained that she's like Janelle: she likes to get mail and birthday parties.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story has a good premise and offers a twist on the friendship and responsibility themes. The rhyming (particularly when it didn't really match) was a distraction for the reader. What is unclear is how Janelle knew about the party in the first place: from her parents? her classmates? Not knowing how she had the information made it hard to answer our daughter's questions about why she would tell a secret.
Pros: This illustrated story gives kids some new "food for thought" about how to handle information, as well as how to take responsibility when they make a mistake.
Cons: The story opens with Janelle waiting for the mail and then jumps to her wanting to confront Chelsea. How did she know to be expecting an invitation? The beginning of the story needs a few more details so that Janelle's knowledge about the party and "spoiling the surprise" has some context.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. The story is a nice way to start a discussion about secrets and handling responsibility. There is just the right amount of text and vocabulary repetition for an emerging reader (first grade).
Educational Themes: The story offers opportunities to talk about ways we handle information, from asking questions to checking facts. It is also easy to create additional scenarios where kids and parents should "ask first" and talk about how they would handle a 'mistake' in the situation.
Notes: Note: This book also includes an eLIVE, digital entertainment package.
Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, family, life lessons, life lessons