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Book Review: Lucy Maud Montgomery (Kids Can Read) by Elizabeth MacLeod, Illlustrated by John Mantha

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My six-year-old daughter knows Anne Shirley very well. Having watched the made for television Anne of Green Gables series several times, and meeting Anne within the pages of the original Anne of Green Gables, my eldest has developed quite a love for the red-headed orphan girl who has captured the hearts of so many readers worldwide.

Anne’s creatrix Lucy Maud Montgomery is a figure who my daughter is much less familiar with. Settling in to read Lucy Maud Montgomery — a Kids Can Read Level 3 reader (designed for children just starting to read alone) from the Inspiring Lives series — I kept Maud’s identity a secret. Drawn in by the beautiful illustrations, and simple but flowing narrative, my daughter beamed with delight when she discovered that Montgomery wrote the Anne series.

Following Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life from birth to adulthood, Elizabeth MacLeod’s introduction to the author focuses tightly upon her journey to successful publication and the emotional forces in her life that led her to writing.

While written as part of a leveled reading series, this charming title should in no way be relegated to a space between the often-inane readers for young children. Instead it offers an excellent read-aloud for sharing with early elementary students before or after an introduction to Montgomery’s work, inspiration for young girls with a literary bent, and a lovely visual experience.

For independent reading, children will need to be able to tackle some advanced vocabulary and longer sentences while not having repetitive words and visual clues to guide their way.

Without becoming bogged down in facts and detail, Macleod’s simple juvenile biography of one of Canada’s most beloved authors has enchanted our family. Macleod’s strong emphasis on Montgomery’s emotions concerning her solitude and desire to be published provide a very personal glimpse into the author’s life.

Arranged in typical reader style – text and illustration clearly separated – artist John Mantha’s oil paintings clearly place Montgomery in mood and time. Softly pastoral nature scenes, period appropriate attire and hairstyles, and a lightly muted palette combine to evoke a distinctly historic air. It’s truly a delight to find a reader filled with such lovely artistic compositions

If Lucy Maud Montgomery is a representative example of the quality to be found in the Inspiring Lives sub-series of Kids Can Read titles, I strongly recommend parents, educators, and librarians to consider adding these titles to their libraries. This series installment has certainly found a permanent home in our collection. The historic significance, wonderful art, personal narrative biography, and of course the opportunity to practice newly formed reading skills mark the series as one to watch for.

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