Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Secret Agent Man! Zelda and Ivy--The Big Picture by Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Zelda and Ivy and Eugene spent most of the day getting ready for a campout. But just before dinner, it started to rain. "Rats!" said Eugene. "We'll have to cancel our campout." "No way!" said Zelda. "Just like a good secret agent, a good planner always has a backup plan. We're going to camp IN!"

Friend Eugene and big sister Ivy drag Zelda off to see the thriller movie Secret Agent Fox. "What if it's too scary?" she frets. Eugene and Ivy are not sympathetic, but they assure Zelda that it'll be exciting--and it is, with lots of bad guys and car chases. Then the boat chase through a sea filled with sharks prompts Zelda to spend some time with her head down, er, looking for something she might have dropped.

Still, the three friends pronounce the movie good and decide to be secret agents themselves, with code names Yolanda, Boleo Rose, and Steve, and picking a code word "Halibut" in case they need to abort an investigation suddenly. But their first mission,spying on their neighbor who appears to mow her grass wearing weird goggles, proves to be a bust when she reveals that the mysterious glasses are just safety equipment. "CASE CLOSED" "Steve" writes in their casebook.

Then the campout turns out to be a bust, too. The secret agent business is turning out to be less than thrilling. But Zelda is there with what all secret agents need--a Plan B. Quickly she sets up their sleeping gear in the living room and provides the makings of toasted marshmallows and S'mores in the fireplace.

"What about stars?" asked Ivy. "I will miss counting the falling stars." "Trust the plan," said Zelda. She ran to her desk for a sheet of sticky-back stars and stuck them on the ceiling.

Ivy is not convinced. The living room smells of furniture polish, not grass. Instead of the night breeze in the trees, she hears her dad practicing his oboe in the basement. And sticky stars on the ceiling are just not the same as counting falling stars in the night sky.

Then one star came unglued and floated down on her sleeping bag. Ivy smiled.

Zelda grinned back. "Just as I planned," she said.

Laura Kvasnosky's latest installment in this Theodore Seuss Geisel Award-winning series, Zelda and Ivy: The Big Picture (Candlewick Press, 2010) provides a gently humorous easy reader for the beginning chapter book fan. With beguiling gouache illustrations with plenty of personality delineating the neighborhood pals, controlled but natural vocabulary, and plenty of contextual clues, early readers will find this short three-chapter book as comfortable as a summer night's breeze.

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