Zigzag Kids, Patricia Reilly Giff's new series for young readers, takes place at an after-school program full of lively activity, and features a multi-age, multicultural cast, as well as a gentle sense of humor. In the first book in the series, Number One Kid, new boy in town Mitchell McCabe wonders where he will fit in, while Destiny Washington, in Big Whopper, tells a fib to impress a competitive companion. Childhood dilemmas (and fears, as adults will recognize) are front and center. Not to worry though—the children find a supportive group of friends and mentors in the Zigzag School's Afternoon Center.
A description of the Afternoon Center from Big Whopper:
[It] took up most of the school's basement. It was a great place. The art room was down there. So was the lunchroom.
Destiny loved everything about the center. Dancing, and plays, art, and snack. She loved bouncing on the trampoline.
On her blog, the author explains what she had in mind for the Zigzag books:
For many years, I was a reading teacher, searching for stories for my emerging readers, for my remedial kids. I wrote The Polk Street Kids [an earlier series] for them. I was always thinking about fluency. I wanted them to read many things on their independent level, turning the pages faster, comprehension assured. How well I remember the children I worked with, their joy when they read their first book and then the next.
And so I began to shape my stories about the kids at the Zigzag Afternoon Center: the sentences short, the phrases few. I tried to provide context clues to help them decode unfamiliar words.
I know some second graders who attend a program much like the one at the Zigzag Afternoon Center. What treat they'll have reading stories with a familiar setting! Short chapters and enough illustrations to break up the text are just the kinds of things they like, too.
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Number One Kid. Yearling Books/Random House, 2010.
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Big Whopper. Yearling Books/Random House, 2010.
This post is part of the blog tour for the Zigzag Kids launch. The lineup of participating sites is here.