Review of ‘Juno Jones Word Ninja’

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A quirky comedy about one young reader/writer who doesn’t actually like reading at all! The start of a great new series for early readers from 6-10 years. 

Title: ‘Juno Jones Word Ninja’
Author: Kate Gordon
Illustrator: Sandy Flett
Publisher: Yellow Brick Books
Age Range: lower primary
Themes: reading, writing, school, activism, bullying, stereotypes, friendship, humour, aliens and ninjas!

A disaster has happened. Muttonbird Bay School might be closing. I mean, forever Juno Jones loves her school. She does not want to have to go to the posh school up the hill or the one down the hill next to the sewage treatment plant. But the Men in Suits want to close Muttonbird Bay Primary down.

And there’s only one thing Juno and her classmates can do to stop it …Read. Which is perfectly fine for people like Perfect Paloma, but Juno Jones is A Kid Who Doesn’t Like Reading. Will she be able to learn to like it in time to save her beloved school? Juno Jones might need to become… a word ninja!

Click on title links or cover image to purchase. 

I regularly pull out a little chapter book called, ‘I Hate Books’ by Kate Walker for 6-9 year olds because it’s a great reminder (especially to me as a teacher librarian!) that not every child loves reading; though I firmly believe every child deserves to develop their identity as a reader. Now with ‘Juno Jones Word Ninja’, I have another short and snappy chapter book featuring a reluctant reader, Juno Jones.  Author Kate Gordon has Juno Jones narrate, star in and ‘write’ this first book in a new series for little readers who are starting off on their independent reading journey, or older readers who prefer short, page-turner chapter books with illustrations to support their reading.

ChickPea (7) is a voracious reader, and I did wonder what she would make of a main character who does not like reading! We read this one together and I am pleased to report that she chuckled her way through most of the book and when I was too tired to read on – she took over – complete with character voices and sound effects. Like in all good early chapter books, font size and style is used to emphasis words or phrases and illustrations break up the text. The illustrations by Sandy Flett are a nice mix of energetic and fun, as well as whimsical and warm and they elevate the entire production to something really quite special.

I really hope ‘Juno Jones Word Ninja’ reaches a wide and varied audience – it ticks a lot of boxes for me and most importantly, is as much for the reluctant readers as it is for the keen ones. We need more junior fiction like this – clever and with characters who are as flawed, fabulous and authentic as the little people in our homes and schools.

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