Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Amazing Monty

Welcome back, Monty! Montgomery Gerald Morris, otherwise know as Monty, returns in Amazing Monty, the third book in an early chapter book series by Johanna Hurwitz. A first grader who excels at reading, Monty encounters surprise after surprise in the book's six chapters.

His first surprise comes about as a direct result of his reading skills. A sign in the school office offers two parakeets and a cage for free. Monty endures a long day waiting for school to end. After finally  securing his parents' permission, he finds out he was late and the birds have been promised to someone else. So imagine his surprise the next day when the birds show up in his classroom! His teacher announces that everyone will get a chance to care for the new class pets, Yankee and Doodle.

But that's not all that's in store for Monty. He loses his first tooth, helps rescue one of the parakeets when it escapes its cage, has an asthma attack while going through a car wash, and welcomes a baby sister into the family. With each new challenge, Monty rises to the occasion in a heartwarming yet realistic way.

Amazing Monty is a gentle story about a sensitive, responsible boy finding his strengths and capabilities. Although published in 2010, it has a rather old-fashioned feel. Monty and his friend Joey walk home from school on their own. Their teacher reads My Father's Dragon (published in 1944) to the class. And, most amazing of all, Monty's parents wait until the birth to learn the sex of their baby. But if some of the details are a bit dated, the important bits still ring true. First graders will forever be excited when that first wiggly tooth pops out, when a new pet joins the classroom, and certainly when they proudly hold their brand new baby sister for the first time.

Johanna Hurwitz, with more than 60 books under her belt, hits another one out of the ballpark. My only reservation is that the audience for early chapter books may be put off reading about a lowly first grader. Kids usually prefer to read about older, not younger, protagonists. Anik McGrory's illustrations of button-nosed first graders are charming and full of life.

Amazing Monty
by Johanna Hurwitz
illustrations by Anik McGrory
Candlewick Press, 112 pages
Published: 2010

1 comment:

  1. I so pleased to know there is another Monty book! My son loved the first two, which I read to him. But I'm sure he'll enjoy reading this one on his own.