In the newest of her early readers, McCully (Little Ducks Go, 2014) nails a common childhood scenario: a twosome is playing school and won’t let a third play.
Ann is the bossy rule-setter, naturally the “teacher.” Bess is a follower. Less enthusiastic, she agrees to be the student. Min is the odd girl out—but bright and creative. When Ann says Min can’t step across the line she draws in the sand, Min appears to acquiesce. McCully takes an unusual but useful approach when she depicts the characters as juvenile elephants on the savannah, for Min is not just strong-willed, but strong. Min begins gathering materials for a project—a rock, a board, a tube, some rope—all clearly delineated in the illustrations, making it easy for youngsters to successfully “read” the correct words and phrases. Anticipation mounts as curiosity grows. What is Min building? A rocket with a seesaw launch, allowing her to cross the line by flying over it! Impressed, Bess suggests they play rocket scientists, and although the end is a bit ambiguous, it appears all three will join in. Young readers will want to, too; and while adults won’t want children trying this trick at home, they may well want to replicate a smaller model for a physics lesson.
A sure hit. (Early reader. 3-8)