Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret Print

What You Need to Know:
• Heidi Heckelbeck is a welcome new character in the early chapter book arena.
• Girls will find a role model in Heidi: she is strong, spunky and she is decidedly her own person.
• This is the first in the series. There are currently six books published with a seventh due out 3/13.
• Apparently, Heidi is a (good) witch - hence the secret. But we don't find that out in this book.
Sweet Book Summary:
Heidi Heckelbeck is a charming new early chapter book series. Eight-year-old Heidi is about to start second grade at the local public school. Previously, she had been homeschooled. Heidi is not thrilled about the thought of being the new girl, but she makes a go of it. The entire book takes place on this first day of school. Heidi encounters the mean girl, makes a new friend and tries to enjoy her new classes. While doubtful she would ever like it, she actually successfully navigates her first day of school.

The story is deceptively simple. While the "new kid" storyline has been done over and over again, author Coven brings new depth to the plot and the characters in this early chapter book. Kudos to her because it is not an easy thing to do while still keeping the story simple for young readers. Heidi admits all the things she is nervous about, but she doesn't let them stop her from trying. She also handles the mean girl with aplomb. These are all issues young readers face in their own lives, and Heidi will set a nice example for them about how to handle their own trials and triumphs.

The ending of the story is quite a cliff-hanger. This is something rather new at this reading level. Most early chapter book series can be read separately, and they don't typically have to be read in order, but it seems Heidi Heckelbeck is different. This book leaves you off in the middle of the story, and you have to read book two to find out what happens. This will create excitement for the reader and will most certainly inspire them to want to keep reading. I would suggest buying the first and second book of the series at the same time. Your reader will surely want to get his/her hands on the next book quickly, in order to find out what happens next!
Author: Wanda Coven Illustrator: Priscilla Burris Published: 2012, 128 pages
Themes: Humor, School, Individuality, Determination, Friendship
Sweet Discussion Questions:
• Have you ever been the new kid? How did it make you feel?
• Have you ever helped a new student adjust? How?
• Do you have a mean boy/girl in your class? How do you handle it?
• How do you think homeschooling would be different from actually going to school?
• How do you think Heidi handled her first day?
• Do you think it was easier for Heidi to start in second grade or her brother to start in kindergarten? Why?
If You Liked This Book, Try:
Fancy Nancy, Super Sleuth, Jane O'Connor
Hooey Higgins and the Shark, Steve Voake
Daisy Dawson is On Her Way, Steve Voake
This recommendation was written by: Melissa Y.
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