Sunday, February 3, 2008

Piper Reed Navy Brat

Piper Reed Navy Brat
Henry Holt, 2007
Are you looking for a book for girls (or guys) who have "graduated" from Junie B., but still need a good, short chapter book to keep them reading? This is the book.

Piper Reed is a fourth grader. She has grown up a Navy Brat all of her life, and has to move at least every two years. The book begins just as the family is getting ready to make the move from San Diego, California to Pensacola, Florida.

Piper is full of life and a determined little girl. It deals with the family making the big move, the girls (Piper is one of three siblings) getting adjusted to a new community and school, and saying goodbye to their dad as he goes out on ship within a short time of them moving.

Kimberly Willis Holt, who has wonderful written picture books (Waiting for Gregory) and YA (When Zachary Beaver Came to Town), has now done an excellent job with this early chapter book. Piper's voice is excellent, her emotions true. Holt shows a very loving family with parents who truly care about their kids, but who must still deal with the difficulties of moving.

Holt herself was a Navy Brat growing up. Although I wasn't a Navy Brat, I personally moved a lot as a kid because my parents were missionaries overseas. I grew up around State Department kids and other missionary and business kids who moved frequently. The feelings were universal, but we always managed to make friends wherever we went, as Piper does in this book.
Piper has a Gypsy Club in San Diego, a tight little group of friends, who make up a new saying "Get off the bus!" It's like saying "Get outta town!", an expression of astonishment. Her goal is to make it a saying that everyone in the country is saying. I love this! When I was in boarding school in Malaysia, we used to always say "Hold the phone!" or this is "malaged" (meaning: messed up). When I moved back to the US, no one had ever heard of those sayings. I can totally identify with Piper Reed Navy Brat.
Many thanks to Henry Holt for sending out these free books--I got this one from a drawing sponsored by Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. 7-Imp also had a great interview with Kimberly Willis Holt.

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