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An endearing new chapter book series by two-time Newbery Honor author of the bestselling Polk Street series.

Jilli and Jim are best of friends. But today, Jim has some news. Something scary is happening next door. Workmen are building something that is big and red. And a woman in a pointy hat is on a ladder painting. Could she be the witch from Hansel and Gretel making a big...
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An endearing new chapter book series by two-time Newbery Honor author of the bestselling Polk Street series.

Jilli and Jim are best of friends. But today, Jim has some news. Something scary is happening next door. Workmen are building something that is big and red. And a woman in a pointy hat is on a ladder painting. Could she be the witch from Hansel and Gretel making a big red gingerbread house?

When Jilli's dog Fiercely crawls under the fence and runs into the witch's yard--the children must go over there and rescue him! But a surprise is in store for everyone. The woman is not a witch at all. She's Ms. Berry--the nicest teacher from the school. And soon she will be their teacher!

With her characteristic warmth, humor, and irresistible child-friendly drama, Patricia Reilly Giff is at her very best!
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
False assumptions underlie the comedy of this buoyant launch to Fiercely and Friends, a paper-over-board early chapter book series that’s right on target for recent picture-book graduates. Peering through a hole in the fence, Jim and Jilli see men building “a Big Red Something” next door. They decide that the woman in a pointy hat painting pictures of gumdrops and ice-cream cones on the structure is a witch creating “a Hansel and Gretel house,” and they fear for the safety of Jilli’s dog, Fiercely, when he gets into the neighboring yard. Using short, punchy sentences, Giff (the Kids of Polk Street School series) writes in the chipper voice of Jilli, whose mind hurtles amusingly from one thought to another. Searching for disguises to scare the “witch,” Jilli finds gummy bears stuck to the woodshed floor and dusts them off: “Gummy bears made you brave. They tasted good, too.” Palmisciano’s (Gifts from the Heart) oil pastels playfully reinforce the energy and puckish personalities of the kids and Fiercely in this promising series kickoff. Ages 5–8. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)
From the Publisher


"The colorful, oil-pastel illustrations make the most of the story's drama and help create its upbeat atmosphere. A warm, childlike start to the Fiercely and Friends series for beginning readers." -- BOOKLIST

"False assumptions underlie the comedy of this buoyant launch to Fiercely and Friends…an early chapter book series that's right on target for recent picture-book graduates." -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Children's Literature - Marge McGugan
Fiercely, the dog, loves to dig holes near the fence. Jilli and Jim are sure Fiercely will dig his way to China. When Fiercely disappears after one of his digs, Jilli and Jim start looking for him and discover a new building next door, with a pointy-hatted woman painting candy on the sides. Then both Jilli and Jim let their imaginations run wild. They must rescue Fiercely from the unknown something next door. Ms. Giff allows her readers to let their imaginations take off. Using easy words, longer sentences, and some challenging vocabulary, young readers will be anxious to show off their “I can read by myself” skills. With Ms. Palmisciano’s colorful cartoon illustrations, readers face fears and the unknown, and learn consequences of their actions. Developing young readers will enjoy the latest adventure of Jilli, Jim and Fiercely, in the “Fiercely and Friends” series. Reviewer: Marge McGugan; Ages 4 to 8.
Children's Literature - Tima Murrell
Jilli and Jim are playing with their dog, Fiercely, in their yard. But Jim notices something being built in the yard next door. As they peer through the fence they see workers building a red building. They also notice what appears to be a witch painting the building. They are really concerned and run back to the house. But while spying on the building from their house, they notice their dog has dug a hole under the fence and is now in the witch's yard. Dressing up to appear scary and getting some food to entice the dog to return they creep over to the fence. But the witch turns out to be their teacher and she shows them the new building that will soon be their school. This book is an enjoyable little mystery that children will enjoy solving. The illustrations are fun and help to tell the story as well. The words are simple enough that this could be a level 2 reader. Reviewer: Tima Murrell
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—When Jilli and Jim observe a neighbor wearing a pointy hat and a "Big Red Something" being built on the other side of the fence, their imaginations take over. Surely the woman is a witch and the house a Hansel and Gretel cottage. And they're convinced that Jilli's frisky dog, Fiercely, is in danger. What a delightful surprise when the children-emboldened by their makeshift scary costumes-approach the woman and discover that she is a popular teacher named Miss Barry. The red something turns out to be a schoolhouse, suggesting more adventures to follow. Oil pastel illustrations provide picture clues for the spare text. Giff understands the way young children try to make sense of the mysteries that confront them and creates dialogue that sounds natural and true. A perfect choice for new chapter-book readers.—Gloria Koster, West School, New Canaan, CT
Kirkus Reviews
The Big Something doesn't end up amounting to much in this lackluster beginning reader. As the first in the planned Fiercely and Friends series, the text amounts to more exposition than narrative substance. Jilli's dog Fiercely digs a hole under a fence, and though she frets that he is "digging straight down to China" he ends up in the neighboring yard. Peeping through a hole in the fence, Jilli and Jim (children will ask whether he's her friend or her brother--the text is unclear) see workers "building a Big Red Something." Also in the next yard is a mysterious woman wearing a witch's hat and standing on a ladder to paint ice-cream cones and gumdrops on the structure's walls, making it akin to the witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel." Curious, Jilli and Jim go to a shed to don disguises (and pause to eat gummy bears stuck to its floor). Then they use a gummy bear to entice Fiercely to return, which provokes the painting woman to come talk with them. Lo and behold, she isn't a witch, but Ms. Berry, "the nicest teacher." She tells the children that The Big Red Something is a "new school" and they follow her into the yard to help her paint. Palmisciano's watercolor illustrations visually describe the text but stop short of adding engaging detail or expansion. A disappointment from a noted writer in an era when outstanding early readers abound. (Early reader. 5-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545461429
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Series: Fiercely and Friends
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,381,928
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • File size: 16 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Patricia Reilly Giff is a two-time Newbery Honor Book author and has written more than sixty books for young readers, including her bestselling Polk Street School series. Her perfect pitch for writing stories that kids love comes from her twenty years as a schoolteacher and reading specialist. She lives in Trumbull, Connecticut, with her husband.

Diane Palmisciano is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and has illustrated over fifty popular books for children. She lives in North Scituate, Rhode Island, where she takes long walks with her dog through the woods and at the beach.

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