Monday, June 30, 2014

MMGM: Franklin School Friends series by Claudia Mills


Kelsey Kline is the best reader in the third grade--well, maybe tied for best with know-it-all Simon Ellis. When the principal Mr. Boone announces  a school-wide reading contest, complete with a pizza party for the winning class and a special certificate for the top readers in each grade, she knows she's just the person to lead Mrs. Molina's third graders to victory. But how can they win when her classmate Cody Harmon doesn't want to read anything, and even Kelsey's best friends Annika and Izzy don't live up to her expectations? And could Simon possibly be reading all of those books that he claims he is, or is he lying to steal Kelsey's rightful spot at the top?


Claudia Mills is the acclaimed author of fifty early-chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9 = Trouble!, How Oliver Olson Changed the World, and Zero Tolerance. Claudia was a professor of philosophy for over twenty years at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received many teaching awards, before leaving the university to write full time. She has two sons. To learn more, visit her website at


A cute read about a young girl who loves to read and wants to win a reading contest. Kelsey reminds me a lot of myself at her age, spending most of her free time reading.  But she also had two good friends, Annika and Izzy.  But neither of Kelsey's friends love reading the way she does.  In fact they have other interests, Annika loves math and Izzy loves running.  Kelsey is determined to win the reading contest by helping her classmates read more and by determining if her main rival Simon is cheating or not.

Kelsey presents as a likable, cute girl with a strong competitive streak.  She works hard to read books that qualify for the contest but don't really challenge her.  She recruits her friends to help her determine if Simon really is reading all the books he says he is and they come up with a plan to find out. The story feels realistic with a teacher that's very focused on her job and a jolly principal who has volunteered to shave his beard if the school meets its reading goal. 

The book mentions a lot of really great books that would be great for children to check out and the emphasis on the delights of reading is a great theme.

This series is likely to appeal to readers who like Judy Moody, Clementine, and Ivy & Bean. Personally, I found it a bit irritating that Kelsey assumed Simon was cheating because he was beating her in the contest. Also, the principal's bouncing into the classroom during prime teaching time also bugged me, probably since I'm a teacher myself and teachers need every minute they can get without interruption. However, it's very possible that there are principals out there like that.  Neither of these things are likely to bother a child reader.


Annika Riz loves math more than anything. She's trying to teach her dog, Prime, to count. She's determined to beat fellow math whiz Simon Ellis in a Sudoku contest at the public library. She even sleeps under number-patterned sheets. But Annika's best friends Kelsey and Izzy think math is boring. All they care about is the upcoming school carnival: their principal is going to be dunked in a dunking tank and their class is going to have a booth selling home-baked cookies. But then disaster foils the friends' cookie-baking plans. Can math save the day?


The Franklin School Friends series focuses on the friendships between three girls, Kelsey, Annika, and Izzy. The first book focuses on Kelsey and her love of reading, the second book, which I'm reviewing here focuses on Annika and her love of math, and the third book, will be about Izzy and her love of running.

Annika loves math and doesn't understand why others have such a hard time with it.  When her teacher tells her about a sudoku contest she eagerly starts preparing to face the other third graders in the area.  Simon, a boy in her class who is seemingly good at everything, is her special nemesis.  In addition, Annika's class is getting reading to host a cookie booth at the upcoming PTA fundraising carnival.  But despite their best efforts, the cookies don't turn out quite right and they end up trying lemonade instead.  Can Annika's math skills help her class? Can her love of math shine through in the contest?

Another cute book by Mills that highlights the value of math and the fact that kids can be friends even with different interests.  I especially liked how Annika's math skills saved the day. A fun read for children who like  realistic stories with determined main characters.

Check out the downloadable curriculum guide for the Franklin School Friends here!

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