Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kid Konnection: Mackenzie Blue Books

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you Books 2 and 3 from the Mackenzie Blue series by Tina Wells. (I reviewed the first book MACKENZIE BLUE last year.) Booking Daughter and I both think these books are a lot of fun!

Summary: Mackenzie Blue has a crush!

But how can she get Landon—the cutest boy in school—to notice her? The class's new rock-and-roll musical is her chance.

Reasons why our musical is going to be amazing:

1. I could be the star!
2.Landon could be my co-star . . . which means we'll hang out together.
3. Working on the sets, props, music, script, and costumes will be tons of fun.

There's so much to do, I'd better get started!

Between her crush, the musical, and her friends—not to mention school work—Zee is torn in a thousand different directions. With all the real-life drama going on, will she lose sight of what's really important? -- Harper

MACKENZIE BLUE: THE SECRET CRUSH is the second book in the Mackenzie Blue series, and it was a cute read. In this book, Mackenzie is busy trying to put together the school musical while at the same time trying to get the attention of her huge crush Landon. I have to say that I liked this book, but I found myself not exactly loving Mackenzie much of the time. She was pretty self-absorbed (that's probably an indication that she was portrayed as a pretty real tween!) and I definitely found her a little hard to take.

As a mom, I did appreciate the lessons that Zee ultimately learned in this book. I just felt like it took awhile for her to get there... but isn't that often times the case with kids? I guess I'll give Zee a little break because she was dealing with her best friend moving to another country in addition to the normal changes that occur during the tween years. It is such a huge time of change!

One of my favorite things about this book (and the entire series) is that it contains a lot of illustrations and journal entries. The black and white drawings are absolutely adorable, but I also really like all of Zee's lists. Like Zee, I am a huge list-maker so I can understand how she feels the need to get everything down on paper -- it does help make things more clear! Plus, her lists are just so cute and funny and filled with such honesty! And if I'm a 41 year old mom who appreciates the graphics this much, then you can only imagine how cute a tween will think they are!

By the end of the book, Zee learns that, while the musical is an important thing in her life, there are much more important things like family and friends. She also learns some secondary lessons in the process about working together in groups and giving second chances. All in all -- some very good messages for tween girls presented in a way that will appeal to them!

Summary: Mackenzie Blue is hitting the trails!

It's time for Brookdale Academy's camping field trip, but Zee has much more to deal with than a lesson about nature. . . .

1. My BFF, Ally, is visiting all the way from Paris! Ooh la la!
2. My friends and I are so going to win the environmental scavenger hunt!

1. We have to stay in teeny-tiny log cabins. How will we all fit?
2. The legendary (and terrifying) Mountain Man . . .-- Harper

I have to admit that while I enjoyed THE SECRET CRUSH, I really thought MACKENZIE BLUE: FRIENDS FOREVER? was a much better book. For some reason, this novel just resonated with me a little bit more. I thought the story was cuter and funnier, but I think I most appreciated the lessons in this novel. I especially liked how much Zee grew up in this novel and learned not only about herself but also about friendship.

In the third book in the series, the kids from Brookdale Academy, along with Zee's best friend Ally who is visiting from France, take a one week camping field trip as part of their studies. Zee isn't exactly thrilled to be roughing it (and I can so relate!), but she manages to make the best of it despite not feeling too well and having a surprise visitor. Zee also learns how difficult it is to keep all of her friends happy. She has to juggle time between two best friends who both seem to be in competition for her attention.

In addition to these issues, Zee has another problem -- the Mountain Man! Right before the camping trip, her older brother tells her the story of a hairy creature who tries to scare campers while looking for his missing leg. During Zee's stay, the Mountain Man does make a few "appearances" to Zee and her friends. Zee has to find if the Mountain Man is for real or is someone just trying to scare her? So there is a bit of a mystery element to this novel as well.

In FRIENDS FOREVER, I found myself liking Zee a lot more than in the prior book. Zee is at that age where she is wavering between a little girl and a young woman, and it's such an exciting time! She learns some very valuable lessons in this book that I hope will carry forward in the future novels in the series.

I think the Mackenzie Blue books are just terrific for middle grade girls. The story lines and the characters are fun, yet the lessons are very pertinent to young girls' lives. I especially appreciate the illustrations and journal entries which enhance the overall story. Both Booking Daughter and I highly recommend these books!

Thanks to Buzz Marketing Group for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

This sounds like a fun series! I just love the covers. Too bad I don't have someone to share them with.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I can tell I would have been a big fan of Mackenzie Blue when I was younger. I have a niece who I think would love these!

On Kid Konnection, I have links to two award winning books for the MG/YA set (and when I write "award-winning" I mean lots and lots of awards!)

gautami tripathy said...

I wanna try this!

Laura Fabiani said...

My girly girl would absolutely LOVE this series! I can tell just by the synopsis and your review. Thanks for showcasing these.