Meet Maximus Todd! He's the kid who can't sit still! Max has a dilemma. Everyone's got a best friend except him. But when a new kid arrives at the school, Max plays a secret game to make him Max's buddy. Too bad the new kid would rather hang out with barf-breath Mandy Beth, peskiest pest in the entire town!
Max finds that while it's not always easy being a kid -- especially if you're a bit different -- there is often humour, kindness and love in the most unexpected places.
L. M. NICODEMO is a school teacher who hopes that this series will mark the beginning of a long and joyful career in writing. She lives with her family in southwestern Ontario
GRAHAM ROSS is an illustrator and designer who has illustrated many books for a wide range of Canadian children's book publishers. He lives in a log home in the woods with his family just outside of Merrickville, Ontario.
"Frantic Friend Countdown puts simple, comic-style illustrations together with a bold, blocky typeface and a day-in-the-life narrative to stir the interest of young readers, most especially those who find other early chapter books a little too difficult to read. The overall look is similar to the "Dork Diaries", "Diary of a Wimpy Kid", or "Alvin Ho" series titles but contains much fewer words than any of them and has very simple writing. The contents page shows 11 chapters, however, and each chapter is announced with a page break and special header, modeling the structure of most grownup novels. The page-by-page design is more open and clean than, say, "Geronimo Stilton" titles, with the illustrations showcasing the object or person of interest without being distractingly detailed. Max is a cheerful, good-natured boy who tries to enjoy his daily school life while being archenemies with his neighbor Mandy Beth — a dependable formula for school stories.
The bolded sentence within my excerpt demonstrates the oddity of the chosen typeface of the book, which is my only quibble. Varied font sizes and use of spacing emphasize important words or strong feelings within the text, an approach which may be useful for beginning readers. However, when the typeface, itself, mixes up lowercase and uppercase letters, sometimes using both within a single word, I believe it may be disconcerting for the target audience at a time when they are learning such conventions as capitalization.
The target audience will surely have no trouble relating to the storylines. The blend of fun graphics by Graham Ross, with varying sizes and designs of text in the quickly paced 96 pages, will be appealing to both beginning and reluctant readers.
The series is written by a teacher who clearly has insight into the mind of a child who feels the type of anxiety that Max does, presumably because she has encountered some throughout her career. While it may be rare to have a child as young as Max display the self-awareness and strength of will that he does, perhaps these books will serve as inspiration to children facing the same difficulties with their own Super Fidgets.
The four books were published concurrently for Formac's First Novels Series, in a format that should prove to be attractive to young readers.
Rated good, even great at times, generally useful!"