All About Ellie by Callie Barkley
Ellie is excited about the abandoned baby rabbits that the Critter Club is fostering, but she’s also really excited about getting the starring role in the school play. She’d hoped some of her friends would share her interest in the play, but they all have other interests of their own. As time goes on, Ellie just can’t get her mind off the play. It makes her self-centered and a bit neglectful of her other responsibilities. Her friends react like any friends would, by being a bit put off and hurt.
Honestly the book seems like a bit of fluff, but this type of problem is so real and so honest. Many kids (and adults if we’re honest about it) talk about themselves more than they should and have blinders on when it comes to others. I thought it was great how Barkley makes it clear that Ellie’s not a bad person for behaving the way she does, but also that her friends are perfectly justified in being annoyed and hurt by her behavior. Barkley also writes the confrontation between Ellie and her friends in a very realistic manner. When Ellie is initially faces her friends about their cooling off, she ends up getting irritated that they aren’t happy with her. It’s just such a human reaction, a real reaction, for a child to not want to believe or listen to anyone saying that they might be in the wrong. The girls do resolve their problems and Ellie apologizes in her actions, not just with words. An added bonus is that she approaches a grown-up about her problems. It’s always nice to see books that paint adults as children’s allies.
Age Recommendation: Grades K-4. This is a Level M reading level, but the story is sweet enough for even Kindergarteners, making it a good pick for little ones who are advanced readers. The friendship drama will hit home with readers as old as fourth grade though, so it may appeal to below level readers in Grade 4 as well.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – None.
Profanity – None.
Death, Violence and Gore – None.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – None.
Frightening or Intense Things – None.