Zemke introduces a creative, young protagonist whose skilled artistry captures imagination in a new series for early readers.
Told and hand-illustrated by Beatrice Holmes Garcia, the story begins with Chapter 1, “This Book is My Life,” aptly named after her sketchbook, in which she introduces her family: two parents, a younger brother, Pablo (whom she refers to as “the Big Pest”), and Sophie, their dog. Events kick off when Yvonne, Bea’s “first and only used-to-be-until-she-moved-a-million-miles-away best friend,” moves to Australia. Bea cannot help but feel rotten. Just when things cannot possibly get worse, Bert, an unruly, backward-baseball-cap–wearing boy, moves in next door. He terrorizes Bea’s brother, ruins Bea and Yvonne’s cardboard-carton fort, and obnoxiously calls her “Buzzy Bea” all the time. When Bert makes an attempt to abduct Bea’s private notebook, she takes to the only retribution she knows: drawing. During geography class, she sketches the Marianas Trench, the lowest place on Earth, and at its depths is Bert in a shark cage, 36,000 feet below sea level. Following is an illustration of Bert atop Mount Everest. The next characterization features an overheated Bert in Death Valley. Astonishingly, even though Mrs. Grogan discovers these drawings, they lead not to perdition but redemption. There isn’t anything real or imaginary that the endearing Bea cannot draw; she straddles fantasy and real life, and Zemke’s black-and-white depictions are appealingly unadulterated.
Readers will find inspiration to write, draw, explore, and imagine. (Fiction. 6-8)