"Easy to read and sprinkled with science, a contemporary tale of friendship, loss, acceptance, and learning how to be who you are and rock what you've got. Jada Jones will remind caregivers of that time when the outdoors was fascinating. Who doesn't remember collecting rocks as a kid? Even though Jada is in fourth grade, the language and tempo of the book are best suited to emergent readers new to chapter books. It's an engaging tale about a little black girl whose best friend has moved away. When her mom advises Jada to try making new friends, Jada soon learns that two is company but three might be a crowd. Jada must maneuver through the minefield of new friends vs. old friends while working on a class project about rocks. She also struggles with jealousy from someone afraid Jada is trying to steal her best friend. Brantley-Newton's illustrations of Jada, her African-American family, and her classmates, mostly children of color, are fun and inspiring, reminiscent of Sophie Blackall's whimsical, wide-eyed depictions in the Ivy + Bean series. In fact, this first in the Jada Jones series feels very much like the perfect fit for fans of Ivy + Bean or Clementine, as Lyons sprinkles her latest character with warmth and a touch of sass. Sequel Class Act publishes simultaneously. Fast-paced, with supersimple vocabulary and a smattering of earth science to spark interest in young rock collectors everywhere."



"Jada Jones is a fourth grader who loves rocks. In this installment, Jada's best friend and fellow rock lover has moved, and Jada is struggling with making new friends. Her hopes are brightened considerably when her teacher informs the class that they will be working on a science project about rocks and minerals. At first, things do not go well because Jada is working with two girls who are best friends. Simone is afraid that Jada will steal her BFF. Eventually, the girls work out their differences, become friends, and present a project of "awesome" rock stars. Though the plot is familiar, it is one that early elementary students will relate to and enjoy. The main characters are what set this title apart in the chapter book field: they are all girls of color who love science. Readers who love "Ivy and Bean" or "Katie Woo" will want to meet Jada Jones. VERDICT With a nice balance of friendship, drama, and the much-needed representation of girls of color who revel in scientific pursuits, this is a strong purchase for most collections."

-- Peggy Henderson Murphy


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