Keeping Secrets (The Pyjama Gang) by P J Denton
|Keeping Secrets (The Pyjama Gang) by P J Denton|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Karen Inskip-Hayward|
|Summary: Fun book for young girls – but with faults!|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 96||Date: September 2008|
|Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's|
Keeping Secrets is part of The Pyjama Gang series of books for young readers aged over seven. It has a bright cover which will attract girls to it, with its red, orange and yellow mix of flowers, letters and other cute items. It is quite a small paperback at only 96 pages and this is broken up into nine chapters, so it is a good book for readers who are not yet very confident or just want a quick read. I read it in about half an hour, but it would also be a good story to read to your child at bedtime.
The book is definitely aimed at girls and I can't really imagine many young boys wanting to read this, as it is very girly. It tells a story of four American third-grade schoolgirls – Jo, Emily, Kara and Taylor. They have formed the Pyjama Gang and take it in turns to have sleepovers at each other's houses. Keeping Secrets is based around the sleepover being organised at Jo's house and the events leading up to it.
The story is fun, entertaining, moves quickly enough to hold a child's interest and it has a happy ending, but the book is not without its faults. On the first page, the words there include 'elementary' and 'auditorium' which I felt might put off readers who are not so confident and might not know these words.
The other main annoyance I had with Keeping Secrets is how American it is. I understand that most British kids are very familiar with American terms from U.S. television programmes popular here, and I would expect them to have some idea of what 'homeroom' and 'restrooms' are. However, especially at this stage in a child's education, it is not a good idea to buy a book with American spelling in it for British children. The story begins at a school spelling bee and one of the words the kids have to spell is neighbor [sic]. If this book was reissued with British spellings, it would receive a higher rating from me.
There are advantages to the book though. The children featured represent different ethnic backgrounds, which is important in today's society. The kids described also fit into several recognisable characters, so we have cheeky kids, clever and not so clever, nervous, the class clown, shy kids and so on. This should make the story easy to relate to.
The themes are positive ones too – friendships are important, try hard at school, try to ignore teasing and so on – but are presented well, so the young readers will not feel they are being preached at and the adults will approve of the messages.
The book is well illustrated, the pictures breaking up the text nicely. The black and white drawings are interesting to look at and add to the attraction of the book.
At the end of the book, there are three pages on Slumber Party Project: Fun and Games which is a nice idea. But this ends up disappointingly being just suggestions of three games to play, so it isn't as exciting as it sounds.
Overall, it is a cute, fun book with four good strong young girls as the stars of the story. I think these series would appeal to both my eight-year-old sister and my twelve-year-old daughter, but I would prefer it if they were re-released with the proper British spellings!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
If this type of book appeals then you might enjoy The Illustrated Mum by Jacqueline Wilson.
You can read more book reviews or buy Keeping Secrets (The Pyjama Gang) by P J Denton at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Keeping Secrets (The Pyjama Gang) by P J Denton at Amazon.com.
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