Isabella’s Above Ground Pool

“I won’t share ‘cuz it’s not fair!” is nine-year-old Isabella Speedwalker-Juarez’s motto. It’s all because she’s stuck in a room with her toddler brother, Dozer. Mom says Izzy has to adapt to Granny’s tiny trailer, where they’ve just moved because money is tight and Mom is worried about losing her job at the gum factory. Izzy knows what will make everything better – an above-ground pool. She’ll swim in it for hours, and she won’t share it with anyone, not even her new classmates or her friend Deborah Nibblebitz-Fifer. With help from Zachary O’Toole, the neighborhood handyman – and from Deborah – Izzy plans to hold a car wash to raise money. But when things finally start to go her way, a tornado damages the neighborhood, and Izzy begins to rethink her motto.

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Sparkling illustrations and a large dose of warmhearted humor make Isabella’s dilemma – and change of heart – easily identifiable to young readers everywhere.
From School Library Journal

Grade 2-4 Nine-year-old Isabella Speedwalker-Juarez faces many adjustments now that she is living in her grandmother’s mobile home and sharing a room with her two-year-old brother, Dozer. Her mother’s hours have been cut at her job, causing additional financial difficulties. In her frustration, the third grader creates a personal motto: I won’t share ‘cuz it’s not fair! To make matters worse, the pool that she has been promised is in jeopardy of being sold after being on layaway for over a year. Isabella is desperate to get the 200 dollars to pay for it but compromises her motto and her earnings after setting up a neighborhood car wash and donating the money to a classmate whose home was destroyed in a tornado. Bold and resourceful, she succeeds in another money-making plan, using her creativity and the help of a classmate to secure her pool. A lesson on friendship and sharing from her handyman neighbor foretells that giving makes you richer. Isabella’s spunkiness and determination to get what she wants provide a number of small morals, and, indeed, she grows a great deal. Readers will enjoy the true-to-life school and family situations. Quirky, full-page cartoon illustrations show Isabella and just about everyone else with string-bean necks and limbs. A short chapter book with an important message. –Jennifer Cogan, Bucks County Free Library, Doylestown, PA

“Gently humorous. The direct, uncomplicated prose and familiar vocabulary will add to the appeal of this transitional story for middle grade readers.” –Kirkus Reviews
From Booklist

Gr. 2-4. “I won’t share ‘cuz it’s not fair” is nine-year-old Isabella Speedwalker-Juarez’s motto, and given her current family situation (she, her mom, and her toddler brother have just moved into her grandmother’s trailer), one can hardly blame her. Her one wish is for an above-ground swimming pool, but family finances are tight, and Mom can’t promise that she will have the funds to pay for the pool before the store’s owner sells it to someone else. Isabella comes up with a couple of successful moneymaking ideas, but when a tornado hits their Texas town, destroying a classmate’s roof, she feels uncomfortable keeping the money for herself. Isabella comes across as a credible sympathetic character, despite her flaws, and her transformation into a more mature and likable child is handled without becoming didactic. Several side characters are also well developed, making for an entertaining story. Consider this as a read-aloud, especially where character education is emphasized. –Kay Weisman © American Library Association.

Each of my books about kids in other countries–Iran, the Balkans, Sudan–was created when I got to know kids from other cultures who finally had been resettled in my town of Portland, Maine. They are now American kids, my neighbors and yours, who came from poverty and war.

Read about other parts of the world and take a journey there through the eyes of other kids your age. Travel by stories!
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