Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Summary: Ryan Hart is a fourth grader–and yes, she’s a girl, “a girl with a name that a lot of boys have.” Her name means “king”, and her parents often remind her to live up to that name by being a leader, which can be tough at times. Her dad recently lost his job at the post office, and has taken another job working the midnight shift, which also pays less. At the beginning of the book, when Ryan’s parents offer her and her older brother Ray ice cream before dinner, Ryan knows there must be bad news coming. It turns out the family is moving. The new house is much smaller, which takes some getting used to, especially when one of Ryan’s best friends moves to a much bigger, fancier house. As spring turns into summer, Ryan deals with other ups and downs: stage fright about reciting a speech in church on Easter, figuring out what to do with her hair, and trying to decide what to do in the fourth grade talent show. The end of school brings the biggest surprise of all, but Ryan takes it (pretty much) in stride, and paves the way for book 2. 192 pages; grades 2-5.
Pros: This book is being compared to Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books: it takes place in Portland, Oregon, features a spunky girl protagonist, and offers slice-of-life stories instead of one major plot. Ryan is funny, honest, and endearing; her insights into family, friendship, and race ring true for a ten-year-old. This book would be just right for a third- or fourth-grade book club; the illustrations and larger font make it feel manageable, but there’s also plenty for kids to relate to and want to discuss.
Cons: Some kids might be turned off by the slightly sappy title.