Reviews for Keena Ford and the Second-Grade Mix-Up

Booklist Reviews 2008 December #2
"In warm, genuine diary entries, this beginning chapter book, set in Washington, DC, chronicles an African American second-grader s rocky first weeks in a new classroom. Keena seems to have a talent for attracting trouble, and in gentle, humorous episodes, she learns how easily a misunderstanding can turn into a lie, as well as the importance of apologies. Keena s character lessons are never too overt, though. In this warm debut, Thomson, a former teacher, skillfully zeroes in on an eight-year-old s anxieties and creates a vivid sense of Keena s world, both at school and at home. Young readers will easily recognize their own experiences as Keena navigates rough patches with friends and shuttles between her amiably divorced parents, and then relates her honest feelings in her journal. Morrison s full-page pencil sketches extend both the comedy and the emotions, particularly Keena s sense that she is accepted and loved, even as she clears up mistakes with family and friends." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
African American second grader Keena joins the likes of Clementine, Ramona, and Junie B. Jones. Well-meaning but impetuous, she learns about jealousy, friendship, and telling the truth after her new teacher thinks it's Keena's birthday. Readers will be able to imagine themselves in Keena's uncomfortable position. Warm black-and-white illustrations show her interactions at school and with her separated parents. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 June #2
Diarist Keena Ford is ambivalent about second grade: Girls and boys are placed in separate classes, so she will not be with her best friend, Eric. But she resolves to do her best and when Ms. Coleman turns up on the first day of school in a "COOL BELT WITH SPARKLES," she decides things are looking up. When she mixes up her dates and leads her teacher to believe that the next day is her birthday, greed for chocolate cake overcomes honesty, plunging her into ever-deeper hot water. Morrison's amiable illustrations clearly depict Keena as a lively African-American girl, but there is little in the text to lend her any ethnic or cultural specificity. The result is that she seems to be just another sassy, impulsive chapter-book heroine à la Clementine or Moxy Maxwell. Still, her escapades and the way she handles them ring with an emotional honesty readers will recognize: If she continues to develop, she has the potential to become a genuine character in her own right. (Fiction. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 October

Gr 1-2-- Set in Washington, DC, this story is written as a journal from Keena's point of view. She and her friend Eric are looking forward to beginning second grade, until they discover that there will be separate classes for boys and girls. Plenty happens in the first week. Keena makes a simple error in writing her birthday and allows the teacher to celebrate on 9/2 instead of 2/9. Eric brags about how much fun it is in the boys' class, and Keena sneaks in to check it out and is caught hiding under Ms. Hanson's desk. She faces some stiff consequences for her mistakes, including being sent to the time-out room. Occasional full-page sketches show the African-American child, her friends and family, and her antics. The writing is good, but a spark of character development is missing. Keena's voice doesn't always ring true to a seven-year-old, at least not in journal format. This book may appeal to students who enjoy funny stories, but stronger titles about school situations are available.--Sharon R. Pearce, Longfellow Elementary School, Oak Park, IL

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