Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nikki & Deja: Election Madness

Determined to become student body president of her elementary school, Deja enlists her best friend Nikki as her campaign manager. Number four in this engaging series featuring two African-American girls who are best buddies, the book has a somewhat predicable plot with few surprises. However, because of Deja's one-track, eye-on-the-prize zeal to win you find yourself rooting for her as the chapters zip by.

Deja is a great character, headstrong and opinionated, yet considerate and sensitive too. Her opposite in many ways, quiet and introspective Nikki follows where Deja leads. As campaign manager, Nikki gives Deja good advice--telling her, for instance, that her election speech has too many unrealistic promises. (Unfortunately, like many a real politician, Deja dismisses her friend's remarks.) In ten fast-paced chapters, Deja launches her campaign, wins the class election, and ultimately loses her bid to become student body president to a fifth grade boy. On the final page, Deja tells Nikki she's running again next year and vows that this time she'll win. Of that I had no doubt.

Karen English, an elementary school teacher in addition to being a much-published author, certainly knows her way around the classroom. The day-to-day details put you squarely in third grade. From what happens at recess to the goings-on in the lunchroom to passing out papers in class. As Deja so eloquently puts it, "It's going to take extra time because there's always a knucklehead who can't just take the paper on top and simply pass the remainder behind them."

All four books in the series are written in the present tense, which I found an odd choice. True, present tense does put the reader in the middle of the action and adds a sense of immediacy, but since the books are traditional chapter books with typical plots, I didn't see the need for it. Will it bother young readers? Probably not.

Nikki & Deja: Election Madness
by Karen English
illustrations by Laura Freeman
Clarion, 115 pages
To be published: July, 2011    
Reviewed from ARC

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for drawing this series to my attention. We have them in my library, and I just checked the reviews. Publisher's Weekly said this about the first book in the series: "More probing than many chapter books, this title delivers the satisfaction of a full-length novel."