Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Keena Ford and the Second Grade Mix-Up

Thomson, Melissa. 2008. KEENA FORD AND THE SECOND GRADE MIX-UP. Ill. by Frank Morrison. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803732635 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

Keena often gets in trouble because she speaks and acts without thinking. Her mother hopes that by writing about her feelings in her journal, Keena won’t act out as much. For our entertainment, we see the action of Keena’s last days of summer and first days of the new school year in her journal entries. Keena’s parents have separated; second grade is about to start, and she finds out that she will be in a class of all girls which means her best friend won’t be with her in class. Even though Keena hopes for a fresh start and a good beginning to the school year, she runs into trouble. Keena is an extremely likeable protagonist who makes bad choices, some really embarrassing. As a read aloud, it affords children the opportunity to see and discuss the consequences of her “mix-ups.” Topics such as jealousy, dishonesty, apologies, and friendship are revealed in Keena’s journal.

Interestingly enough, Keena is an African American, but nowhere in the text is her race mentioned. Only the illustrations give us clues. The pencil drawings show an attractive child in various realistic situations in this beginning chapter book novel. Keena is an easy child for students to identify with. Her foibles make her very believable and endearingly human.

Invite young readers to consider what it would be like to have their class made up only of same sex children. Do they think that this segregation would be good? How would it affect their lives at school?

Other books about schoolgirls:
Harper, Charise Mericle. JUST GRACE. ISBN 9780618646425
Pennypacker, Sara. CLEMENTINE. ISBN 9780786838820

By Cay Geisler

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