Billie B Brown & Hey Jack: The Book Buddies, by Sally Rippin, illustrated by Ari Fukuoka
Australian Reading Hour Special Edition
This special edition 'Billie B Brown & Hey Jack!' book is a joy to read.
We are big fans of the 'Hey Jack!' books in my household. Mr 6 is particularly loving these books as he can now read them by himself, which gives him a sense of accomplishment. The short sentences are manageable for emerging readers and the use of some more difficult words add additional challenge for those kids keen to expand upon their vocabulary.
Jack and Billie (as we all know) are best friends, and always do everything together. They are dismayed when Ms Walton decides to split them up for the school reading challenge. Billie is upset that her book buddy is a five-year-old – how will she win the book challenge when she's stuck with a child that can barely read?
And Jack feels nervous when he is told his book buddy is in Year 6 – what if he gets paired with a big scary kid? Jack is particularly nervous, admitting that he finds reading difficult. He feels worried that his Year 6 buddy might get mad with him for not being good at reading. Being privy to Jack's internal worries will be comforting to young readers who may also struggle with reading – and who will find this storyline particularly easy to relate to.
How will Jack and Billie cope with their new book buddies, when they are so used to being paired up for everything?
You will have to read the story to find out!
I love that this book is written from the alternating point of view of both Billie and Jack, so we get an insight into how each character is feeling. The story shines a light on the magic of reading and the power it has to transport you to new worlds, as well as the joy that can come from helping someone learn to read. The story also highlights the importance of kindness to others, and demonstrates that winning is not what’s important, and that people are not always what they seem on the outside.
I love how Billie and Jack are realistic characters that children their age can easily relate to. They are not flawless – sometimes they find things challenging (with Jack admitting in this book that he finds reading hard); they can both be quick-tempered and sometimes do the wrong things – but they are also quick to apologise and eager to learn from mistakes as they go. Kids will be encouraged to know that they do not have to be perfect at everything, but just be willing to try, and that it is okay to make mistakes.
Both Billie and Jack are full of fun and natural curiosity, and enjoy adventure - again ensuring young readers will readily relate to them.
This is a story that is short in length but still manages to feel full of heart and warmth.
A perfect read for Book Week!
Published by Hardie Grant Egmont.