Title: Anna, Banana, and the Monkey in the Middle
Author: Anica Mrose Rissi
Illustrator: Meg Park
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Summary: Anna has two best friends and one big problem. Both of her friends want her to choose between them. Who will Anna sit next to on the bus? Who will she choose as a field trip partner? Who’s favorite animal will Anna choose to do their project on? Anna tries to solve the problem herself, but she feels like she’s being torn in half. Her dog, Banana is a good listener, but not much help. Then something her dad tells her about fairness makes her realize that each friend is unique and that she can be fair to both by being herself.
Literary Merit: Anna and her friends are believable third graders. The story is written in eighteen short chapters which move the story forward without being too cumbersome for early fluent readers.
Kid Appeal: Kids will relate with Anna’s problem of choosing between two best friends. Her problem is genuine and honest. Her solutions each step along the way, feel like something kids would really try in real life. And the fact that she solves the problem with straightforward directness, leaves the reader with a good feeling.
Disclaimer: This book was nominated for the 2015 CYBILS Award in the Early Chapter Book category. This review is shared as part of the Round One Judging. It is solely my own opinion and not influenced by any other parties.