Judy Moody for new readers is a miss.
The original Judy Moody’s target audience is new chapter-book readers, and there, she is a queen. In a new format aimed at newly independent readers, Judy is back with familiar characters: the titular Rocky Zang and, in a simultaneously publishing companion, Jessica Finch (Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble; 978-0-7636-7027-6). Both stories follow a similar plot trajectory—the main characters have a big idea (fledgling magician Rocky wants to work with Judy as his assistant, and pig-crazy Jessica wants a pot-bellied pig for her birthday) that falls flat when misunderstandings among Judy and her pals get in the way. Here, Rocky perfects a hidden-dollar trick that makes Judy mad. The back-cover copy assigns this book to ages 4-6, which is quite a stretch, especially in the occasional spreads in which text fills an entire page. The vocabulary can be a challenge, likely to frustrate the just-beginning reader. On just one page, readers must tackle assistant, clenched, amazing, Supersonic and Switcheroo, words that gear the title to a slightly more experienced audience. Fans will also be disappointed by the new illustrations. Gone are Peter Reynolds’ deft, humorous lines, and here is Judy looking very different in brilliant full color.
Fans tend to love things just the way they are, making this attempt to extend the brand down of questionable wisdom. (Early reader. 6-8)