Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain, Illustrated by Anne Keenan Higgins

Image from
Scholastic, 2013

Almost-Eight-Years-Old Jules Bloom doesn’t expect anything special to happen on the day she sings her very own, made-up-for-fun Fizzy Ice Cream Cone song at the dinner table at the local diner. Well, maybe she expects her artist mother, chef father, and not-so-good-at-standing-still little brother Henry to clap and cheer. But she certainly doesn’t expect a casting director, the effortlessly cool Colby Kingston, to invite her to audition for a mouthwash commercial! The audition is on Friday, but in the meantime Jules is busy making lists and learning about friendship. At first Jules is worried about whether or not she’ll get the commercial, but then she gets the script and develops an even bigger worry: The commercial is for orange mouthwash! Orange! Jules can’t believe her bad luck! After a horrible incident in a taxi cab involving throwing up large amounts of orange sherbet, she can’t even handle the smell of oranges. Will Jules get the part if she throws up during her audition? Will the new girl, Elinor from London, become Jules’ new best friend? And will Jules and her ex-best friend, Charlotte “Stinkytown” Pinkerton, continue to fight? One thing’s for sure, this week won’t be boring!

Set in New York City this story centers around a vibrant, realistic, and unique protagonist. I especially love her colorful style and her goal-oriented lists. Surrounding Jules is a loving, quirky family. Supportive and encouraging, Jules’ parents always have time to answer her questions and work through issues. The plot complications have to do with overcoming personal obstacles, be it the taste of oranges or the changing of friendships. Friendship is a major theme in this book, as Jules learns to make new friends, appreciate old friends, and accept that sometimes people change and that’s okay. Short chapters, written in first person from Jules’ perspective, keep the pace quick as the story effortlessly unfolds. The text is a balance of narration and realistic, yet humorous, dialogue that will keep readers engaged. Higgins cartoon-ish black and white spot illustrations provide visual interest and just enough context to keep transitional readers moving forward.

Get to know Jules a little better by reading an excerpt from the book.

*Check out the discussion guide (written in list form, naturally) published by Scholastic.

*In the book, Elinor introduces Jules to astrology. Have kids figure out their signs and the signs of their friends for fun. You could also bring in books on constellations so kids can see the constellation for their sign.

*Follow Jules adventures as she tackles her part in a movie in the sequel. Scheduled to be published later this month (Sept 2013):
            Starring Jules (In Drama-Rama)

            The Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker
            The Ruby Lu series by Lenore Look
            The Violet Mackerel series by Anna Branford

Age 7+ / Grade 2+


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