Tuesday, August 8, 2017

EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS: Fergus and Zeke/Sydney & Simon To the Moon!


Meet Fergus and Zeke a lovable classroom mouse and his streetwise buddy in a brand-new series perfect for early readers.

Fergus loves being the class pet in Miss Maxwell s classroom. He does everything the students do, until the teacher plans a field trip to the museum without Fergus! He doesn t want to miss the fun, so he stows away in a backpack and sets off for an adventure. When he arrives at the museum, Fergus finds it a little overwhelming huge and full of exciting things to see. Luckily, he meets a new friend, Zeke, who knows the ropes, and together they explore everything from moon rocks to butterflies to a giant dinosaur skeleton ("A playground!" says Zeke). But when the time comes for the bus to leave, Fergus is worried that he ll be left behind. Will he make it back to school to take his place as class pet once more?"


I am delighted to review this early reader by one of my favorite writers, Kate Messner.  There are numerous books out there involving classroom pets as main characters, which isn't surprising since it's a fun idea, one that children enjoy.  But it takes something new to make the idea fresh.  Messner's done a nice job here creating a likable character, Fergus, who wants to learn with the class, in a lot of ways, he reminds me of Betty Birney's Humphrey, but for younger readers.  Fergus sneaks off with the class to visit a museum where he tries to follow the rules given by the teacher (which as a teacher I appreciated).  But when he meets Zeke, who starts showing him around and encouraging him to break the rules, it's so exciting that Fergus can't help but slide down dinosaurs and climb on the moon rocks.  But he gets so distracted that he loses track of his class and starts to panic a bit when he realizes he has lost his class.  This is a fun early chapter book with cute characters and some STEM concepts slipped into the story.



The chance to meet astronaut Kris Kornfield is a dream come true for twins Sydney and Simon. But first they have to come up with the most creative project about the Earth’s moon. While Sydney’s work is all about the art, and Simon’s is all about the data, neither seems creative enough to win the prize. But when they put their heads to-gether, they incorporate S.T.E.A.M. thinking and come up with a winning idea. The third installment in the Sydney & Simon series, this kid-friendly story makes science concepts accessible and exciting.


S.T.E.A.M. concepts are becoming a major part of many school's curriculum.  And with good reason. Teaching children to combine subjects in thinking about problems helps them develop brain connections as well as integrating creativity.  In this third book in the Sydeny & Simon series, the Reynolds twins use their own S.T.E.A.M. skills to share the power in working together using science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to create something great.  This is clearly a book intended to teach but that doesn't make it less enjoyable, which is rare for a teaching book.  The darling illustrations compliment the fun word play and information in the text to create a story that's both fun and educational.  This would be a great book to use to introduce the S.T.E.A.M. ways of thinking and working to younger children, plus there are some great ideas for projects as well.  

1 comment:

  1. I was just recommending early reader books to a fellow writer in my critique group. I suggested Fergus & Zeke but Sydney & Simon is new to me--happy to have more titles to recommend!


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