Can a third-grader like to read too much?
Principal Boone throws down the gauntlet: He will shave his beard if the students at Franklin School read 2,000 books in a month. Kelsey Green is excited. After all, she is the best reader in her class. Kelsey doesn’t care if the winning class wins a pizza party or if the principal shaves his beard or kisses a pig, but she does care if she beats classmate Simon Ellis, therefore securing her name on a plaque. Kelsey’s competitive nature exposes the dark side to such contests: She figures out that short books (poetry, Junie B. Jones, etc.) will move her closer to her goal, even though they are not the books she usually reads. She assumes that Simon is cheating and sets off to prove it. She begins to dread family events since they take time away from reading for the contest. But Cody, a boy in her class, is not reading. Kelsey finally discovers what is really important when she helps him learn to read. Though Kelsey is borderline unlikable for most of the contest, Mills allows for redemption when Kelsey realizes that Simon is not cheating and that Cody has a lot to offer the class. Sprinkled with titles even new readers will likely recognize, this new series shows a lot of promise.
Lesson learned: Read for fun, not for competition. (Fiction. 6-9)