Billie B. Brown, The Best Project by Sally Rippin

best project ever

Title: Billie B. Brown, The Best Project
Author: Sally Rippin
Genre: Fiction
Age: Elementary
Part of a Series?: Yes

*I received this book as part of a consultant’s kit when I joined Usborne Books & More as an Independent Consultant

Summary: 
Billie B. Brown is eager to take part in a class project to build a model city. The only catch is that she wants to impress her substitute teacher by making the best project: a tower to place in the center of the class’s city and her glue just isn’t strong enough. This book outlines her struggles to make her project match her vision–the night before her project is due.

Overall Impression:
I read this to my daughter while we were at a baseball game with my son’s cub scout pack. It was quick to get into the conflict, had pictures for my daughter to look at, and moved very quickly. I think I read the whole thing to her in 20, or maybe 30, minutes. That, more than anything, shows its worth: my daughter loves books, but rarely sits for more than five minutes to listen to a single book. This one held her attention better than any other I’ve encountered so far.

The Nitty Gritty:
The drawings are cute and so is the story line. I very much enjoyed how quickly Ms. Rippin established who Bille B. Brown was and what her current conflict was. Billie as a character is very easy for a young child to connect with and relate to, and I believe that this book could be read to 3 and 4 year olds who really enjoy being read to and who really have a good attention span. It would also be of interest to early elementary children who are living the same struggles as Billie. This book also has large print, with very few words on a page, and tops out at around four or five chapters, making it a good transition between picture books and chapter books.

As for the writing, the only drawback–for me–is that the fast pace might make it a little harder for children to really internalize the lessons that are featured in this book. Yes, the fast pace helps keep kids’ attention and allows them to more quickly complete the book, which can be a very big milestone for younger readers. However, I feel that five or ten more pages could have enhanced the secondary lesson in the book (which is currently almost entirely ignored) and allowed for a more blatant expression of Billie’s growth, without significantly changing the speed with which a child can complete the book. On the flip side, removing the secondary lesson would also have left space to more fully explore the primary lesson the book presents.

Book Club Chatter:
Strictly speaking, this book is not likely to end up in a book club setting. However, my local library does have younger book clubs and they are becoming more prevalent. In the absence of a book club for your child, these questions can easily become a conversation between parent and child.

  • Chapter One: How do you think Billie could have better handled her frustrations?
  • Chapter Two: Do you think Billie should be concerned with comparing her project to Lola’s?
  • What do you think Billie could have done to protect her project when she discovered it was still too wet to move?
  • Chapter Three: Can you remember a time you were angry?
  • How did you treat the people around you when you were angry?
  • How do you think that made them feel?
  • (If you are stopping and talking about each chapter as you go): What do you think Billie did to fix her project? What was her super duper idea?
  • Chapter Four: Billie compares herself to Lola and has a desire to make a project that is better than Lola’s. Billie even says that Lola is perfect. Do you think it is more important for Billie to do her best or to do better than Lola? Why?
  • How do you think Billie felt when Lola and Lola’s friends laughed at her?
  • Can you think of a time you were brave? What did you have to do? How did it make you feel to face your fear and be brave?

Goodreads Rating: 4.08 (26 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: None (no reviews; the book is only available used on Amazon because new books must be purchased through an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant)
Usborne Books & More Rating: 5 stars (1 review)
My Daughter’s Rating: A million trillion stars
Minor Spoiler Ahead!: Because she fixed her problem when she made her sculpture.
My Rating: 4 Stars
This book is great at capturing a young reader’s attention, which is why I gave it a four star rating. And it is very cute and easy to connect to. However, the fast pace resulted in glossing over the lessons covered by the book, which kept me from giving it five stars.

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