"Martin Bridge: Ready For Takeoff"
Written by Jessica Scott Kerrin
Illustrated by Joseph Kelly
(Kids Can Press, 2005)
Grear stuff for younger readers - on the same level as the Beverly Cleary and Joanna Hurwitz books.
The Martin Bridge series features an appealing main character, Martin, a young boy (maybe age 8-10-ish) who is emotionally complex and refreshingly flawed. Although he's basically a nice kid, Martin is frequently grouchy and petulant, jealous of other kids or impatient or combative, but in each of these short stories, he usually figures out a better way to deal with his feelings. Sometimes there's a big, lightbulb-going-off change of heart moment, other times the change is more subtle, but always it feels pretty true to life. Author Jessica Scott Kerrin brings a light touch and a distinctly female perspective to these stories, that of a woman who's spent a lot of time with young boys, knows what makes them tick, and loves 'em anyway. Martin's mother is protective but patient, giving gentle course corrections, but mostly lets her son work things out on his own.
The emphasis on emotions, and in particular on normal, everyday negative emotions makes this series valuable - it helps kids recognize and accept our less-than-perfect human nature while also giving a sense of how we can better ourselves. However, the tone isn't noxiously goodie-two-shoes or fake. We enjoyed these books a lot and had several interesting conversations about Martin's behavior and how he'd solve various problems. Recommended reading! (Joe Sixpack, ReadThatAgain children's book reviews)