From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–This lovely early chapter book, the third in a series about fourth-grader Winnie, is full of quiet emotions and on-target observations about the way young children think and act. Winnies friend Zoe represents their school in the city spelling bee. Vanessa, her other best pal, is in the high schools production of The Sound of Music
. Winnie, trying to find what she does best, enters an art contest run by a local museum. At school, she is paired with a defiant kindergartener, John Stuart, as a reading buddy. While keying in on his interests and helping him to learn to read, she finds that they have something in common; Winnies mom died soon after she was born, and John Stuarts mom is sick and his father is absent. Later, when his mom is rushed to the hospital, Winnie can either stay with the frightened little boy or see how she does at the art contest. Choosing the right thing to do does not come easily. By the end, she realizes that although she draws well, shes best at being a friend. Simple line drawings add charm and whimsy and effectively depict the characters feelings. Winnie is a well-rounded and earnest protagonist who can comfortably join the ranks of spunky girls like Amber Brown, Ramona, and Junie B. Jones.–Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
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Gr. 2-4. The third chapter book in the series that began with Winnie (Dancing) on Her Own
(2001) continues the story of Winnie and her two best friends. Now in fourth grade, Vanessa is to play one of the Von Trapp children in the high-school musical, and Zoe wins the spelling bee. Feeling left behind, Winnie throws herself into art in hopes of becoming the best at something.
When the fourth-graders are paired with kindergartners for reading aloud, she gets little response from young John Stuart, but her efforts to help him have an unexpected consequence later. Both story lines come together in the satisfying and ultimately touching conclusion. Winnie's single-parent dad is supportive of her artistic aspirations as well as the choices she makes in the end. With illustrations featuring a beautiful economy of line, a story that sensitively depicts the characters' feelings, and fine-tuned, realistic dialogue, this is a rewarding choice for young readers. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved