New Girl...and Me


On her first day of school, who will be her friend? Raise your hand if it's you. You'll meet someone ? and something ? surprising.

Two African American girls named Shakeeta and Mia become friends when Shakeeta boasts that she has a pet iguana and Mia learns how to help Shakeeta "feel at home" even when she is in school.

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On her first day of school, who will be her friend? Raise your hand if it's you. You'll meet someone — and something — surprising.

Two African American girls named Shakeeta and Mia become friends when Shakeeta boasts that she has a pet iguana and Mia learns how to help Shakeeta "feel at home" even when she is in school.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Roberts, making her debut, and Phelan (illustrator of The Seven Wonders of Sassafrass Springs) team up for a raw and affirming book about two girls' bumpy path to friendship. When narrator Mia's teacher asks the class to make Shakeeta, a new classmate, feel at home, "I ask Ms. Becky, `How can someone feel at home when she's at school?' " In spare language, the rest of the book explores this idea. Early scenes depict the new student clinging to the doorway while the teacher introduces Shakeeta, and when D.J., the class bully, calls her "Shakeeta Mosquita," she responds, "I'll punch you in the head!" But something about Shakeeta and the teacher's request touches Mia, and the heroine finally finds her chance to reach out to Shakeeta. Roberts beautifully articulates the emotional stakes: "Maybe now Shakeeta would like for me to show her around. Maybe she will punch me in the head." As the friendship slowly blossoms, Shakeeta and Mia demonstrate to readers how connections forged with others can help us feel "at home" in the world. Phelan's use of space communicates the initial isolation of the girls, separated by a plane of whiteness; with their first shared laugh, he floods the background with color and brings the two girls closer together-both physically and emotionally. This honest book does not shy away from the courage it takes to make a friend, and it also celebrates the rewards to be gained by forming such a bond. Ages 4-7. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Cindy L. Carolan
Talk about a feel-good book! This is a gentle story about Shakeeta, a new girl at school, and Mia, the classmate who befriends her. On Shakeeta's first day of school, all of the girls want to show her around, but one little troublemaker named D.J. makes fun of her name. Shakeeta responds by telling him she will punch him in the head. Then the children find out that she has an iguana for a pet, a fact that alternately intrigues and repels Mia. When the girls find themselves excluded from big soccer game (thanks to D.J.), Mia is hesitant to talk to Shakeeta for fear of being bopped on the head. But, figuring that she would never know until she tried, Mia starts up a conversation that opens the door to a potentially beautiful friendship. Gorgeous pastel watercolor drawings emphasize the tender age of the children and their delicate demeanors. The cover is another winner: the title is only partially contained on the front cover; it ends on the back cover. A stellar choice for any "new kid in the classroom" situation, as well as for children who may be hesitant in making new friends. The author is a former elementary school teacher, which is obvious by her style of writing. Highly recommended.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-On Shakeeta's first day at a new school, most of the girls are eager to show her around, but Mia hangs back shyly. The next day, the fickle girls blithely desert Shakeeta to play soccer with a popular boy who refuses to include her. Left by themselves, Shakeeta and Mia gradually strike up a conversation and a friendship is born. While no unfamiliar territory is explored here, the characters are realistically and sympathetically portrayed, and the conversations and actions of the children are natural. Phelan's cartoon-style watercolors depict a realistic-looking classroom with a mix of children from a variety of backgrounds. The pale hues are nicely set off by crisp white backgrounds, and the characters' facial expressions are filled with personality and convey a wide range of emotion.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A young outsider finds a best friend in the new girl in her class. On the first day of school, narrator Mia watches intently as Ms. Becky introduces Shakeeta to the others. All the nervous new girl can think of to say is, "I have an iguana." Mia immediately does some research on iguanas at the school library. The next day, when Shakeeta (like Mia) fails to be chosen by other students for a soccer game, a friendship is born via a discussion of iguanas, and blossoms into a best friendship, with laughter and the sharing of "Igabelle's" care and feeding. Phelan's pale watercolor illustrations beautifully capture the gentleness and vulnerability of his young protagonists and Robbins's pitch-perfect prose makes this a subtle winner. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689864681
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
  • Publication date: 6/20/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 782,504
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqui Robbins for years an elementary school teacher, lives with her husband and young daughter in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Matt Phelan's black-and-white illustrations first appeared in The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney. His picture books include The New Girl...and Me and Two of a Kind, both written by Jacqui Robbins. Matt lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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