Marty McGuire would rather spend recess catching frogs in the pond than playing dress-up with the other girls in third grade. So when her teacher casts Marty as the princess in the class play, Marty's absolutely, positively sure that there's been a huge mistake. But after a special lesson in the art of improvisation, Marty comes up with her OWN plan to IMPROVE the play: Why use stuffed-animal frog onstage when a live one would be so much better? In the end, Marty's one-of-a-kind performance makes for an unforgettable show. Maybe Marty CAN live happily ever after, after all! (goodreads summary)
So far, third grade for Marty has not turned out like it was suppose to. She feels her best friend Annie was stolen by Veronica Grace, who is also taking over recess time by insisting the girls play princess dress up. Annie seems to not have the same interests anymore like catching frogs or crayfish or pretending to be Jane Goodall like the two girls used to and this troubles Marty. Instead of dress up, she would rather see what the boys are up to by the pond and has no fear of the creatures that inhabit there. As if this year couldn't get any worse, the class will be performing the play "The Frog Prince" and to Marty's surprise unexpectedly gets the lead role as the princess! She refuses having the part but her teacher and mom encourage her to stick with it and try her best. When a theatre professor arrives to help the class with their drama skills, he teaches them the keys to acting improv which takes Marty to new levels of creativity that just may make being a princess a little more bearable for her.
This is a wonderful book for early chapter readers. Marty has a great voice telling her story and expressing her feelings about the many things she feels has gone wrong in third grade. Her character is strong and she shows us that you can stay true to yourself when you are faced with the many ups and downs of friendships that change, bossy girls and unexpected disappointments. Children will connect with the details of the daily happenings of a typical third grade school day with humor. I liked that there was a lot of development, not only with Marty, but among a few other characters as well. It is a fun read with a quick wit humor that had me laughing at many parts throughout the book. The idea of improv was a wonderful way to help kids understand that a little flexibility in certain situations can go a long way. There are wonderful illustrations that are full of expression and children will look forward to turning every page to discover another. It is always nice to find a book where the writing matches the age group that it is intended for. A second book , Marty Mcguire Digs Worms, is due to arrive April 1st and I am thrilled to see a great series like this one for our younger readers to enjoy and learn from. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 7-9.~
Title: Marty McGuire
Author: Kate Messner
Genre: realistic fiction
Pub. date: May 2011, Scholastic
Paperback, 132 pgs.