Fans of Princess Posey and Ivy and Bean will enjoy engaging with science-loving Jada Jones in this easy-to-read chapter book.
When Jada Jones's best friend moves away, school feels like the last place she wants to be. She'd much rather wander outside looking for cool rocks to add to her collection, since finding rocks is much easier than finding friends. So when Jada's teacher announces a class project on rocks and minerals, Jada finally feels like she's in her element. The only problem: one of her teammates doesn't seem to like any of Jada's ideas. She doesn't seem to like Jada all that much, either. Can Jada figure out a way to make a winning science project and a new friend?
The early chapter book bridges between leveled readers and chapter books for fluent readers adjusting to the chapter book format. At about 5,000 words, with short chapters and two-color art on almost every page, it will appeal to this unique reader. The two-color art throughout will help readers transition from the familiar four-color art of leveled readers and ease them into black-and-white chapter books.
About the Author
Vanessa Brantley Newton is a self-taught artist with a great passion for children's books and fashion illustration. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her artwork so that every child sees their unique experience reflected in the stories they read. She celebrates self-love and acceptance of all cultures through her work, and hopes to inspire young readers to find their own voices. Vanessa has illustrated over 30 books, and has written and illustrated the picture books Let Freedom Sing and Don't Let Auntie Mabel Bless The Table. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and daughter, and a crazy cat named Stripes.
Read an Excerpt
Chapter One: Best Friend Blues
For the first time ever, I overslept.
Usually I beat everyone downstairs on school mornings. But when I woke to the sun peeking through my blinds, I just shut my eyes again. I would have kept right on sleeping if Mom hadn’t come into my room.
“Jada,” she said. “It’s time to get up.”
I groaned and yanked the cover over my head. Thinking about school meant thinking about Mari. At recess, we used to take off hunting for rocks—inky black slivers, orange hunks perfect for writing on pavement, gray nuggets splashed with silver that shimmered in the light. Why did she have to move?
Mom sat next to me on my daybed and gently pulled my fuzzy blanket back. My eyes blurred as I sniffed and tried not to cry.
I turned to the wall.
“I know you miss Mari,” she said, pulling off my sleeping scarf and stroking my braids. “But you have lots of kids in your class who would love to be your friend. You’ll see.”
Mom kissed my head and left so I could get ready. I washed up and slid on my jeans with deep rock-stashing pockets and purple dragon T-shirt. I opened my jewelry box and picked up the heart-shaped pendant Mari gave me for my birthday. I clutched it in my hand. Her half said “best.” My half said “friend.” Even though Mari had just left Raleigh for Phoenix on Friday, I already felt like part of me was gone.
For breakfast, Daddy made his specialty—homemade banana pancakes with strawberry syrup.
“Can I get just a tiny smile from my favorite daughter?” he said, setting a flowered plate in front of me.
Daddy knew that would usually make me laugh. I’m his only daughter. I tried to smile, but it felt more like a grimace. All teeth with no joy. While my little brother, Jackson, gobbled his pancakes, I poked at mine with my fork. Finally, I washed down a mouthful with a gulp of milk.
Daddy put his hand on my shoulder.
“Blues can feel like they’re here to stay,” he said softly. I knew what he meant. Daddy plays all kinds of music—hip-hop, jazz, reggae. But his blues songs made me think of an aching way down deep. I wondered if the hurt of losing Mari would ever go away.
“But you know what’s certain about the blues?” he asked.
I looked up at him and shook my head.
“They don’t last forever.”
I thought about what Daddy said on the way to school.
“Try to have a good day, honey,” Mom said as she dropped Jackson and me off at Brookside Elementary. I nodded before closing the car door behind me. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought. Maybe I could have an okay day without my best friend.
I walked Jackson to kindergarten and slowly climbed the stairs to the fourth-grade hallway. Miss Taylor had said we would be starting a new science unit. I couldn’t help but get a little excited about that. But when I walked into my class, the first thing I saw was Mari’s empty seat. I sat across from it and quickly hid my face behind my library book about different kinds of gems.
“Sorry Mari is gone,” Lena whispered to me as she slid into her chair. She and Carson sat at my table. We were the only group that now had three instead of four.
I put down my book and looked at her instead. Daddy said you could tell a lot by someone’s eyes. Her kind, brown ones said hope you’re okay.
“Thanks,” I said.
Lena is cool. Her best friend is Simone. They are nuts about jump rope the way Mari and I are crazy for rocks. I thought about Mom saying I’d make new friends. Maybe I could show Lena and Simone how awesome rocks could be.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lyons creates a likeable character in Jada Jones. She hits just the right note of spunk without being sassy to adults, and just the right note of vulnerability without being weak. Jada is an African-American 4th grader who appeals to young readers. She has her struggles but her stories promote good values such as believe in yourself, say no to drama, and try to fix your mistakes. Most of all, her stories show that to have a friend, one must be a friend. Lyons’ books are delightfully illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton in these easy-to-read chapter books. Readers in 1st-3rd grade will enjoy meeting Jada and her friends!
This chapter book wins 5 stars from me for being fast-paced and easy-to-read with relatable, interesting characters including BFF to all, Jada Jones❤️. Add to this Jada’s love of science and Vanessa Brantley Newton’s gorgeous illustrations––and BOOM! This becomes a book I’m excited to recommend to all my young friends.