Book Review - Marty McGuire

Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Brian Floca
Publisher: Scholastic (May 1, 2011)
Pages: 160
Audience: 1st to 3rd grade
Source: ARC from Mid-Winter ALA
Fiction * Early Chapter Books 

Description from GoodReads:

A fun, accessible chapter-book debut from an exciting new talent--simultaneous hardcover-paperback launch!

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!

One of the most challenging age groups to write for are children in grades 1st to 3rd.  These developing readers are at all different levels.  Finding just the right book to draw them in and keep them reading - well that isn't easy.  When I find one that I love, I get pretty excited.  Kate Messner's first early chapter book is definitely one that falls in this category.

"I'd call Veronica Grace Princess Bossy-Pants if I were allowed to call people names. But I'm not.  So I won't."  - Marty McGuire, p. 1

Messner had me with this line.  I immediately became quite fond of this third grader who would rather be Jane Goodall than a princess in a school play.  Messner does a great job of creating a character who is funny, energetic, but not annoying.  I had great empathy for Marty's teacher and loved her down-to-earth parents.  And of course, I got a great chuckle out of a rehabilitating raccoon named Sparky who is currently living with the McGuires.

Since I loved this so much, I had to share it with a class of second graders.  They loved Marty as well.  Here are some of their thoughts:

"I like the part when she (Marty) kisses the frog." - Perla, age 7

"The book was funny, and nice.  It will be cool to have another." - Dulce, age 7

"I like Marty McGuire because it was funny.  I liked the book because Marty got a new friend in the end." - Celeste, age 8

"My favorite part was when Marty fell into the pond." - Chanler, age 7

"What I liked about this book is that Marty didn't want to be a Princess in the play, but she still did it. And she was showing courage." - Sierra, age 7

Since we were so excited about Marty McGuire, we asked Kate Messner if she would Skype with us.  She agreed and my students were so thrilled.
We asked lots of questions and even learned that there were be one more Marty book coming out in 2012 and hopefully more after that. (Scholastic - please take note that we would like many more Marty books.)  Kate even asked the students to give her feedback for possible future titles of books.  Our love for Marty McGuire didn't end here, we made sure she was featured at our Spring Bookfair at Vroman's Bookstore.

For more information about Kate Messner and her books, check out her website:

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