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Gabby, Drama Queen by J. Grant



Grant, Joyce.  Gabby, Drama Queen. Illus. Jan Dolby.  Markham, Ontario: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2013.  Print.

This book is best described as “busy.”  The plot is both imaginative and complex, busying itself with a subplot—a play within a story, and incorporating spelling and phonics as integral elements of the text.  The book features appended activity pages.

Briefly, the protagonists, Gabby and Roy, become actors, bringing their stage and props into existence through the magic of letters spilled from a picture book   Conveniently, they create a stage, a crown, and a stream.  Children will probably not notice (but reading teachers will) that the story is a good introduction to lessons on consonant blends.

The illustrations are cheerful, whimsical, and, once again, busy; they should engage a child’s attention.  Still, regarding the beginning reader, the book is inherently problematic.  The child who is only just beginning to sound out and spell the words “crown” and “stream” will not be able to read independently such sentences as “Queen Gabriella swanned dramatically onto the stage.”

If the book is to fulfill its dual purposes of instructing and entertaining the child reader, its first reading, at least, will require adult assistance.  This reviewer would suggest de-emphasizing the didactic elements, and letting the playfulness of the storyline carry the day. 

Reviewer: Leslie Aitken
Recommended: 3 stars out of 4

Leslie Aitken’s long career in librarianship involved selection of children’s literature for school, public, special, and university collections.  She is the former Curriculum Librarian at the University of Alberta.