Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jazz Off-Key

Jazz Off-Key, a chapter book written by prolific author Dandi Daley Mackall, is part of the Zonderkidz FaithGirlz series of books. This is a series of books especially for girls.

This book is also part of the Blog On series, a series of stories about a group of five girls who get together once a week to plan and discuss the blog they have created – hence the name of the series. Each book in the series features a member of the group. This particular book is about Jazz (Jasmine) Fletcher.

Jazz has anger management issues. She seems to be angry about something nearly all the time. Even though she believes in God, and she prays about things, when her sister inadvertently ruins her paintings and jeopardizes her first chance at having her art exhibited, God seems very far away and her anger is too much for her to control.

Jazz’s passion is art. She loves to draw and paint and do sculptures. When the owner of a local art supply store asks her if she would like to exhibit her art at his open house, she jumps at the chance. She shows her sister Kendra the paintings she wants to exhibit; Kendra says they need more color. While Jazz isn’t home, Kendra “repaints” Jazz’s artwork orange and red. Kendra has Down’s Syndrome and thinks she’s doing a good thing. She doesn’t understand she has ruined her sister’s work.

Jazz is an artist, so she writes a cartoon for the group’s blog. She also shares her problems with her friends. When she tells them about her ruined paintings, they all try to help her come up with ways to salvage the show. In the end, Jazz learns the importance of family and forgiveness, and she develops a closer relationship with God.

For a little background on the series, a brief bio and description of each girl is provided at the end of the story.

The Bible verse, 2 Corinthians 4:18 is given as a reference: “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

What I Like: The characters in this series seem very real. They’re the types of characters readers can relate to.

What I Dislike: At one point in the story, Jazz’s friend, Storm, suggests the two of them break into the local elementary school to retrieve a couple of paintings Jazz did years ago that are kept in a supply closet there. They don’t have to break pick any locks or break any windows to get into the building as one window is unlocked. But, still, they are doing something illegal. Storm is able to talk her way out of trouble when a security guard catches them in the act. I’m unhappy with this scene because it makes it look likes it’s all right to enter buildings that are supposed to be locked up. They had a good reason for doing so, and they did it for a good cause, but they still did something illegal and there were no real consequences for the act. I think that sets a bad example for young readers.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 9-12.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2007; ISBN: 0310712653; Paperback, $6.99.

Buy now at ChristianBook $5.49.

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