Monday, January 04, 2010

Doing It with Grace: Just Grace Goes Green by Charise Mericle Harper


YOUR FRIENDS Sometimes you might think that you have the perfect number of friends, but then you add a new friend to the list and suddenly you can't believe that it used to be different, because now it seems so just right perfect, and just maybe even better than before.

YOUR MIND So that if you at first thought one thing, but then some time goes by and now you think another thing, then that's okay.

Some things haven't changed. With so many Graces in her class, Grace is still stuck with being Just Grace at school. Miss Lois, who tends to be set in her ways, even has her in alphabetical order right after Jordan in her grade book. But taking over from the funny and friendly substitute, Mr. Frank, who had a talent for making third grade invigorating, Miss Lois is clearly trying to make learning more exciting, and Just Grace is inspired by their class drive to "go green." Grace quickly becomes dedicated to decorating plastic water bottles, turning off unused lights, and brushing her teeth with a minimum of water.

But even going green doesn't take up all of Grace's attention when her best friend Mimi announces that her cousin Gwen is coming to stay for weeks while her parents are away. Grace is curious about Gwen, but finds herself just a little green with jealousy, worried that Mimi will spend all of her time with her guest and Grace will be Just Lonely Grace. Gwen is nice, but being a year older makes her seem a bit bossy, and she manages to take up most of Mimi's time. But when she commandeers Willoughby, Mimi's favorite stuffed rabbit, for her own, Grace sees a way to win back Mimi's affection by finding a way to substitute her unwanted stuffed owl as Gwen's favorite bedtime buddy.

But it's not an easy scheme to carry out, especially since the three girls are so involved in their recycling project, plans for Gwen's birthday party, and managing a yard sale to make sure all their unwanted toys will not be added to the waste stream. But Just Grace finally comes up with a plan which just might work--wrapping her old toy up as a birthday present for Gwen, who falls for it, abandoning Willoughby right away for her new Owly.

Early chapter book fans of Judy Moody, Clementine, Ivy and Bean or Allie Finkle will find Just Grace's school and friendship dilemmas funny and familiar territory in her cheerful, easy-going sequel, Just Grace Goes Green, from Charise Harper's popular, light-hearted series, which also includes Just Grace, Still Just Grace, and Just Grace Walks the Dog, all illustrated by "Just Grace" in her inimitable hand-drawn cartoon style.

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