Juno Jones: Word Ninja by Kate Gordon
Juno Jones and her friends will do anything to save their school from closure. With ‘men in suits’ coming to observe their school, and ultimately shut down one of three schools, Muttonbird Bay School is on the chopping block. Their teacher Miss Tippett has a plan, but it involves a lot of reading. A reading journal quickly becomes compulsory as the school aims to bump up the children’s literacy levels. Juno Jones does not like reading, much preferring to draw cartoons or make jokes. However, she doesn’t want her school to close so she must become a word ninja.
The first book in a new series for early readers, Juno Jones: Word Ninja is a fun and engaging read for children in early primary.
Author Kate Gordon breaks free from a formulaic mould to create her lead character. Juno is quirky, adventurous, has great comedic timing, and doesn’t like books. The reluctant reader develops her own interest in books by ‘writing’ this one instead.
Formatted to read almost like a diary, the book features doodles, pictures and different fonts to help draw readers in and keep fellow reluctant readers entertained.
Juno is sarcastic and dry-witted, which might fly above some readers heads, but with a fast pace and plenty of action, it is bound to appeal. Gordon doesn’t skip over the other children in the school, with a host of fun and unique characters. If readers have trouble relating to Juno, her brother Genius George, Shy Vi, Perfect Paloma or Smelly Bella keep things fresh and interesting.
Hidden within the book is, weirdly, more books. Gordon pays homage to some well-known books (Juno’s review of Kelly and the Big Blue Blunket is very funny). Despite the main character being a reluctant reader, the book does celebrate the wonder of literature.
Juno Jones: Word Ninja would make a great introduction to chapter books for younger readers. Suitable as a read-aloud or read-alone, it is witty, funny and engaging. I look forward to seeing how Gordon progresses the series.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Yellow Brick Books, RRP $12.99