Monday, November 11, 2019

It's Monday - Sixth Grade Serious & Silly

              Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with others who post their favorites. I'm sharing two posts today, this one dedicated to what has become a series, newly adding book three.
              I reviewed the first Dewey Fairchild book a couple of years ago here. And I wrote about the early questions I had about the premise of the book. It seemed over-the-top with the way Dewey worked with his secret office and next-door neighbor and elder friend Clara as his assistant. Everyone, including clients, is constantly fortified by Clara's cookies, too. But, I was asked to share book number three, Dewey Fairchild, Sibling Problem Solver this last month and they sent me all three books. Well, I enjoyed book three so much that I took the time to read book two which I had missed. I still like them as much as ever, hope you will find them and enjoy their totally satisfying stories!

           I felt a bit uneasy thinking about Dewey taking clients who had problems with their teachers, with the possibility of his interfering with teachers, but I needn't have been concerned. The problems are real and Dewey's solutions were considerate and actually focused on helping the teacher, resulting in good solutions for everyone. For example, one teacher's students complain he is boring and he does not realize what he's like until the tables are turned. He's bored by the students! Another has linked the curriculum expectations to the study of sharks, so much that kids are afraid to drink from the water fountain. Dewey discovers the reason, helps the teacher look at sharks in ways he had not considered, a great lesson for everyone. It is terrific to see the lesson in expanding research, learning about ALL sides.
           As in the first one, Dewey's friends and family, members and activities with them show up often, more entertaining than the one focus on problem-solving. Yet this time, Dewey and his friends have a school-wide challenge: they've taken away the vending machines (for snacks on break) and introduced a new toilet-paper roll which dispenses only one sheet at a time. "Outraged" is the word for the outcry so Dewey and friends, Colin and Seraphina, with Clara's spectacular cookie-baking help, plan a protest. But first, the research comes, and a frantic search for Colin's retainer, all in the real lives of middle-school kids! The day-to-day life of the families and kids is also included, this time showing Dewey's dad who is student teaching so he can become a math teacher, Dewey's interest in drones, and some of the parts of his life not so good, like having to watch his little sister, called "Pooh Bear" when he believes there are more important things to do. It's a real-life and fun story many kids will enjoy.

           Now, in this newest one out, Dewey has discovered some personal learning along with helping others solve sibling problems. The first problem begins with a 'parent' problem. Archie Thomas' mother won't allow video games during the week, but when they compromise with Dewey's help, the older sister is dismayed because Archie's mother is now entranced with the social media interactions, and managing to embarrass her daughter. After figuring that out, a new client emerges, a girl whose brother won't leave her alone and does some fairly mean things to her often. Dewey's problem-solving, and enticing stake-out to observe the problem is real research. Reading about his thinking, then connecting it to his own life for the solution shows Dewey is growing older and realizing that his life is not perfect either. He needs to find a few solutions for himself, too. 
           Oh my, Dewey has another personal problem! little sister Pooh Bear manages to figure out Dewey's secret office in the attic, and when she and older sister Stephanie slide through the air vents (yes, that's the entry!), Dewey struggles with the solution. What to do, what to do? 
           As in the first two books, social problems are also tackled by Lorri Horn. In the book about teacher problem-solving, the rights of children to speak their minds and protest is respected and upheld. This time, with a description of Dewey's solution to the bothersome brother problem, discussion of colors denoting gender and how those beliefs started is included in a solution that did not go well. Dewey's work is not always perfect! More adventures with drones and now those that take pictures also take place. And, descriptions of the characters show the author wants to be sure that readers know diverse kids and adults are in Dewey's life. 
          Clara, the endearing, next-door neighbor who is Dewey's assistant keeps the support going, too. She and her dog, Wolfie, are mainstays in Dewey's life, along with the family. Their support, warm and fun conversations bring a feel-good vibe to all the stories. 
          There is a lot to love in these books that will entertain, but also inform thinking for readers. I enjoyed them very much.

           See Lorri Horn's SCBWI's profile here. Thanks to Amberjack Publishing for the books!


  1. I really like how Dewey manages to resolve the problems. They sound like the kind of book that would be good for read aloud and spending a bit of time talking about the solutions and how we can implement them in our own lives!

    1. That's a great idea, Cheriee. Sometimes when I read books like these I am sorry that I no longer have a class. But I will share with the granddaughters! Thanks!

  2. I've not yet read any Dewey Fairchild, but now I'm interested! Like Cheriee said, these sounds like potentially good read alouds.

    1. Thanks, Shaye, I hope you enjoy them as I did.


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