Books by Debbie Palen

HOW NOT TO START THIRD GRADE by Cathy Hapka
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 10, 2007

Will and his little brother Steve face third grade and kindergarten in this over-the-top chapter book in the venerable Step-Into-Reading series for new readers. Will knows that going to the same school as his brother is going to be a challenge, but he does not know how much of a challenge it will be. From the moment Will has to hold Steve's hand and take him to kindergarten, everything that can go wrong does. Whether Steve is slamming all the lockers, making faces through the third-grade window or starting a food fight in the cafeteria, he's embarrassing his older brother. Expressive and stylized color illustrations add to the exaggerated plot lines. A comfortable, predictable ending on the bench outside of the principal's office will make new readers everywhere smile with recognition. No one will mistake this for a lesson book about back to school, but new readers will find many reasons to laugh out loud with Will and Steve. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
HOW NOT TO START THIRD GRADE by Cathy Hapka
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 10, 2007

Will and his little brother Steve face third grade and kindergarten in this over-the-top chapter book in the venerable Step-Into-Reading series for new readers. Will knows that going to the same school as his brother is going to be a challenge, but he does not know how much of a challenge it will be. From the moment Will has to hold Steve's hand and take him to kindergarten, everything that can go wrong does. Whether Steve is slamming all the lockers, making faces through the third-grade window or starting a food fight in the cafeteria, he's embarrassing his older brother. Expressive and stylized color illustrations add to the exaggerated plot lines. A comfortable, predictable ending on the bench outside of the principal's office will make new readers everywhere smile with recognition. No one will mistake this for a lesson book about back to school, but new readers will find many reasons to laugh out loud with Will and Steve. (Fiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
THE KIDS' ALLOWANCE BOOK by Amy Nathan
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 1, 1998

paper 0-8027-7532-2 A completely charming discussion of allowances for kids, covering how to get one, how much to receive, whether allowances should be tied to chores, how to get paid on time, how to get a raise, and how to hang on to the cash and make the most of it. Nathan surveyed 166 kids from ages 9—14 who all receive allowances: "An allowance makes me feel like I don't have to depend on my parents for everything," "it makes me feel more grown up," "an allowance makes saving easier," and "isn't it better to learn with small sums than to goof up big time with big bucks later?" They also found that learning to negotiate with their parents over money taught them skills for "all the conversations on other issues that come up between parents and kids." By bringing the comments together and supplying her own wisdom, too, Nathan makes the subject of money open and manageable. With charts from Zillions and Nickelodeon surveys, and illustrated with comic cartoons throughout, this self-help manual communicates some of life's important skills in a way that is fun and practical. (Nonfiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

A lightweight but kind-hearted guide full of cheery and self-affirming advice for young girls. In a conversational text that is full of asides and funny musings, Harlan offers advice and questions. ``Could she be your hero?'' appears in a box, followed by a paragraph on a specific woman, e.g., Julie Croteau, the first woman to play college baseball, or Donna Karan, the fashion designer. Other boxes offer little-known history, facts, and points to ponder, while there are also sensible and inspired ideas on fun, fashion, friends, and the future—``Spend time shaping your LIFE, not your body.'' A few pages ask readers to write in their thoughts on a topic, while other times statements just hang meaningfully in the air. Perhaps the most bemusing is the chapter on adults, wherein Harlan does an extended riff on the metaphor of adults as books—some are boring encyclopedias, some are how-to manuals, some are comedies, and some are poetry. There are also some great one-liners, among them, ``Teach a boy to dance'' and ``Look in a mirror. Find both of your parents in your own face.'' (b&w illustrations, index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
THE PERIOD BOOK by Karen Gravelle
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 20, 1996

Give this straightforward treatment of menstruation a warm welcome. Written by the co-author of Where Are My Birth Parents?, (1993) and her 15-year-old niece, it has a reassuring, matter-of- fact tone lightened throughout by Palen's humorous but appropriate line drawings. Following a brief description of puberty, menstruation is frankly discussed; most helpful is a whole chapter on ``What to Wear?''; another chapter negotiates genuinely embarrassing situations that every female has envisioned, if not experienced. Readers will also find information on uneven breast development, gynecologists, pimples, and more. The book is aimed at readers who are premenstrual or newly menstrual; teenagers seeking detailed information on sexual activity, birth control, or sexually transmitted diseases will have to look elsewhere. However, there is an excellent final chapter that emphasizes continuing communication with parents and suggests readers save sex for ``someone special.'' Four blank pages ``just for you'' should not preclude library purchase. A worthy companion to the more overtly feminist Period (1991) and a fine complement to the inclusive It's Perfectly Normal (1994). (index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14) Read full book review >