In the second of our chapter book series reviews, J, M and I would like to introduce you to Horrible Harry/Song Lee by Suzy Kline. You may want to read one before you share them with your kids. Not all the characters are the most wholesome of role models. For the teachers out there, the author even provides classroom activity ideas that tie into the books.
What are these books about?
They are about Horrible Harry liking Song Lee.
They're about how Horrible Harry loves Song Lee and how they react to it. It's also about how Harry and Sidney become friends and how Mary is really bossy. It's about Class 2B and 3B. They're all in the same grade, but half of the series is about them in 2B and half is about them in 3B.
Horrible Harry and Song Lee are classmates. These stories are about their everyday adventures as elementary school students.
Who are the main characters?
Doug, Sidney, Song Lee, Mary, Harry. Mary and Harry rhyme. And Ida and usually a class pet.
Song Lee, Horrible Harry, Doug, Mary, Miss Mackle and Ida
Doug, the narrator, is an elementary school student. Horrible Harry (goodhearted but mischievous) and Song Lee (sweet but a goody two-shoes) are the protagonists and Doug's close friends. Miss Mackle is their teacher.
Do you have a favourite book? Which one?
Horrible Harry's Secret
Horrible Harry in Room 2B
Horrible Harry Cracks the Code
What do you like about these books?
It's just the most hilarious and it's most interesting.
Each book explores realistic conflict between kids and shows how they overcome it. I really like that the majority of each story occurs at school and that the books make school look fun. Each book also sneaks in some academic lesson from class. M's favourite so far has been the Fibonacci sequence. After reading Horrible Harry Cracks the code, M calculated it out to 2584. For fun.
Is there anything you don't like about these books?
Well yes. They use inappropriate language in the books, like they have the characters say things like "stupid" and "dumb" and there's things like that.
The kids are really quite mean to each other, but sadly, I think that's probably a realistic depiction of 2nd and 3rd grade.
How hard are these books to read?
Not very, but I have been struggling with some words.
Just as easy as the Rainbow Fairies
These are genuine chapter books with non-trivial vocabulary. I'd say kids confident with short chapter books would find these manageable.
Do you think boys and girls would like them?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.