Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Book Review: Cool Zone with the Pain & the Great One

The Pain and the Great One return in the 2008 Cool Zone with the Pain & the Great One. (Judy Blume's first Pain and Great One chapter book, Soupy Saturdays with the Pain & the Great One, came out in 2007.) This time the brother and sister duo face bullying at school, the dreaded school bus, name changes, pet show and tell, and art class.

Blume wrote The Pain & the Great One series for newly independent readers and the series is perfect for kids heading into kindergarten and the first through fourth grades. Blume's remarkable understanding of child psychology and trademark dialogue make The Pain & the Great One as important and entertaining as Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret is for older children. The Pain and the Great One narrate alternating stories each in distinct voices. The Great One is bossy, wants to stand out from the crowd (changes her name from Abigail to Violet Rose), and protective (goes after a bully who picks on the Pain). The Pain is inquisitive, sweet, and, of course, can be a pest. Take a look at how this conversation--narrated by the Pain--tells us all we need to know about the siblings (and their grandmother):

"'Grandma never should have given you that magnifying glass,' the Great One said. 'You're way too young.'

'Am not!'

'Are too!'

The next time Grandma came to visit, the Great One said, 'I don't think Jake is old enough to have his own magnifying glass.'

'I do,' Grandma said. 'He's interested in science.'

'Ha ha,' I said to the Great One. 'I'm interested in science.'

'I'm interested in science too,' the Great One said. 'Ms. Valdez is my favorite teacher and she teaches science.'

'I'm glad to hear that,' Grandma said.

'But no one ever gave me a magnifying glass from the science museum,' the Great One told her.

'Did you ever ask for one?' Grandma said.


'Well, that explains it,' Grandma said. 'Now I know what you'd like for your next birthday.'"

Any child with a sibling will recognize the truth in this conversation. Cool Zone with the Pain & the Great One is highly recommended for anyone with a sibling (or anyone who wants to rejoice in being an only child), anyone in elementary school, and anyone anywhere who enjoys a good story and great narration. Enjoy.