Published by Greenwillow
Summary: Marisol’s active imagination helps her to enjoy silent movies, name inanimate objects (like Buster Keaton, the refrigerator), and make up stories about her collection of stuffed cats. But it also means she can imagine falling out of Peppina, the huge magnolia tree in the backyard that she longs to climb like her best friend Jada does. Marisol has other fears, like mean girl Evie Smythe and Daggers, the dog she has to pass on her bike ride. But at one point Marisol was too afraid to even ride a bike, and her dad stayed with her until she learned. By the end of the story, with plenty of parental and best friend support, Marisol has made it to the top of Peppina. 160 pages; grades 2-5.
Pros: This is one of those rare gems, like Billy Miller or Stella Diaz: an illustrated chapter book, clearly written for elementary kids, that beautifully portrays the challenges ordinary kids face to get through the day. Marisol is an introspective, imaginative girl, and many readers will relate to her fears, and how she slowly but steadily works to overcome them. I’m always rooting for books like this, geared to younger readers, to get some Newbery love.
Cons: Kids raised on a diet of Dog Man and Scholastic Branches books may need a little help getting into a less frenetic book like this one.