Finally, a beginning chapter book for kids that is both fun AND wholesome! My kids loved the Amelia Bedelia series of books when they were beginning readers. Now there is an all new series featuring Amelia as a child. There are all the same mix-ups and misunderstandings the grown-up Amelia always has in her adventures, but now they are wrapped up in a sweet pint-sized package.
This first chapter book starts out with Amelia wanting to earn a bike and looking for jobs to make some money. She gets herself into all sorts of silly situations because she takes things so literally (just like the original series). Here are just a few examples:
- When Amelia describes the bike of her dreams to her parents, they mention how it must cost an “arm and a leg”. There is an illustration in the book at this point showing an arm and leg with price tags hanging from them. Amelia exclaims that she would never pay that much (thinking they really meant a literal arm and leg)!
- Pete from the diner asks Amelia if she can “cut the mustard”. She responds that she never tried that but she can sure squirt the ketchup.
- A customer at the diner tells Amelia to bring him a piece of cherry pie and to “step on it!” because he’s in a hurry. Amelia did just as he asked and literally planted her foot right in the middle of it.
- A woman at the park tells Amelia that her boss just gave her a pink slip (fired her). Amelia thinks she means a literal slip, like one you would put under a dress.
There are lots of silly mishaps and times when Amelia misconstrues the meaning of all sorts of things said and situations that add gentle humor to the story. These instances are also a great opportunity for young readers to learn how different sayings can have several meanings. The story usually makes it quite clear what the intended meaning is and also how Amelia understands it so readers don’t get lost themselves. If you have an autistic or literal child, this is a perfect book to use as a learning tool to spark discussions about literal vs. figurative meanings. Regular kids can also benefit from the subtle lessons about language as well as the subtle undercurrent of morality and goodness.
One thing that I found extremely refreshing about Amelia Bedelia Means Business is that when Amelia inadvertently causes trouble, she always takes full responsibility for it with a sweet attitude, seeking forgiveness and making restitution. She has a wonderful relationship with her parents (no “dumb” or overbearing parents here, as in many children’s books) and there isn’t a single mean moment in the entire book. All of the humor is wholesome (no potty humor here!) and any potential misunderstandings are resolved with kindness.
A few additional thoughts about the book:
This isn’t a religious book, but Amelia and her parents say grace before a meal. That’s the only mention of any Christian type element. I think the book will appeal equally to secular or religious parents & kids. In the story, Amelia always tries to do the “right” thing. The book is set in modern times (with mentions of T.V., etc.) and there is, of course, a happy ending that should feel quite satisfying to young readers.
I think Amelia Bedelia Means Business will appeal to girls more than boys because of the main character (Amelia) as well as the light and cutesy illustrations (some complete with little hearts, etc.). However, some boys may enjoy the story because of the quest for a bike and the silly humor.
As for ease of reading, I think most good readers in the 1st or 2nd grade should be able to read this book. It does have a few “big” words like whispered, ingredients, embarrassed, etc. but shouldn’t be beyond kids just out of primer style books.
I think this is a great addition to children’s beginning chapter books and highly recommend it, if you want a DECENT, sweet book for your child or student(s).
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