SMARTY SARA by Anna Jane Hays


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7
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The “mystery” of the key Sara finds on her doorstep plays itself out in this wan offering for young readers. Part of the venerable Step into Reading series, this tale has most of the earmarks of a book for new readers: generous font, understandable page breaks, rhyme and easily decoded words. What is missing is a readily comprehensible and engaging story. Sara writes in her journal off and on while also planning a surprise for her small group of friends. There’s little explanation for the confluence of these two plot elements, and close readers will wonder why a key was needed for the “surprise” in the first place. Some unusual words, such as “scram” and “bandanna,” have clearly been chosen to fit the phonics patterns, even when they sound stilted. Emergent readers deserve better than this incoherent and condescending tale. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 8th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-375-83512-4
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2008


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