Beatrice Zinker upside down thinker by Shelley Johannes
Hachette, 2017. ISBN 9780734417336
(Age: 6-9) Recommended. Themes: Individuality. Self-perception. School. Friendship. Humour. 'Beatrice Zinker did all her best thinking upside down.' Life in the Zinker family proves difficult for middle child Beatrice, everyone else 'likes boxes and boundaries, they follow the rules and prefer to fit in with their friends'. In first and second grade Beatrice and her best friend Lenny loved wearing costumes, playing pirate games and testing the limits. Over the summer holidays, Beatrice waits for her best friend to return from the Philippines; she has big plans involving ninja suits, reconnaissance and spying.
On the first day back, Lenny has transformed into a normal third grade student, new sparkly shirt, a skirt, and no more glasses. What a shock for Beatrice, but instead of accepting the changes, she concentrates on still trying to be friends. While Lenny, her new buddy Chloe and their classmates are playing veterinarians at recess, Beatrice creatively tries to fit in. Could she be a bat, hanging upside down, or a sticky gecko? When an accident happens and Beatrice spends time in the nurse's office, her creative mind works on a possible solution to her friendship and classroom dramas.
Shelley Johannes' gentle story encourages young readers to think positively and celebrate their different styles and personalities. Her creative language uses alliteration, humour and sensory experiences to build a picture of Beatrice's journey. Beatrice Zinker upside down thinker is a wonderful read aloud novel for years 2-4, one to stop and ponder the sage advice, the creative thinking and discuss the valuing of individual differences. Johannes has drawn from childhood experiences and this is beautifully crafted in this junior novel as she explores emotional wellbeing, friendship, self-perception and anti-bullying.