Here's a new junior novel, just right for those readers who are not quite ready for middle-grade chapter books. Hailey Twitch is Not a Snitch was written by Lauren Barnholdt, illustrated by Suzanne Beaky, and published by Sourcebooks (May 2010). My copy is an Uncorrected Advance Copy from the US publisher.
This book is not exactly an easy reader as it is longer, and doesn't have such restricted vocabulary and sentence structure as educational publications. I am seeing more of these junior novels and applaud publishers for catering to the needs of younger readers without dumbing down. The book has large font. Not all pages have illustrations, but many do and Beaky's quirky sketches add charm to an already charming story.
Hailey Twitch's voice grabbed me immediately. She is an authentic second grader, who loves pink sparkly pencils and bending rules.
But Hailey also has a secret: she's friends with Maybelle, a sprite that's visible only to her. And Maybelle is on a special mission to help Hailey have fun.
The problem is that Maybelle keeps getting Hailey into trouble.
I think kids will enjoy Hailey's adventures as much as I did. I seemed to be either grinning or laughing aloud as I read the book. Hailey struggles to get what she wants while staying out of trouble, and I think kids will relate to that. It will appeal to girls who like stories about fairies, but it might grab some boys too as it is a school setting with characters of both genders, and lots of action and humour.
Judging by the book's ending, where we read Hailey's conversation with a certain Mr Tuttle from the Department of Magic, Bernholdt has more adventures in store for our feisty seven-year-old heroine. Fun, fun, fun!