Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Series review: "The Bailey School Kids," by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

Leprechauns Don't Play Basketball (1992)
Mummies Don't Coach Softball (1996) 
Unicorns Don't Give Sleigh Rides (1997)
By Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
Little Apple / Scholastic

A friend has convinced me to try my hand this year for the first time at writing children's literature; but I don't actually know anything about children's literature, so am starting the process among other ways by first reading a stack of popular books that have been recommended to me. Today's titles are from yet another of these series of endless chapter-books designed for grade-schoolers, in this case all of them co-penned by a duo of friends who used to be grade-school teachers themselves; this is one of the types of employment I myself am hoping to find in the industry, to kick out such easy-reading 30,000-word titles once a month or so, which is why I'm reading so many of them these days. Now, admittedly, this particular series is based on a high-concept that I find tough to imagine lasting for as long as it has; basically, each title features yet another new adult in the lives of our middle-class child heroes who may or may not be a mythological creature, exhibiting strange traits throughout the story but never just coming out and saying whether they're a mummy or vampire or whatever. (And in fact there are almost 75 books in this series now, nearly all of them featuring a different mythological creature, which just on its own is pretty impressive.) These are very much for the younger end of the chapter-book crowd, in my opinion from ages 7 to about 9 or 10, featuring lots of illustrations and a ton of silly humor; and to their credit Dadey and Jones are much more interested in simply being entertaining than in trying to teach a moral lesson, usually a common trait among books for this age group. They're nothing special, but certainly readable and fun, and come recommended for younger readers looking for their first dose of genre excitement but wanting to avoid dark material altogether.

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