Bea Garcia: My Life in Pictures
Author and Illustrator: Deborah Zemke
Published March 8th, 2016 by Dial Books
Summary: Bea Garcia is an artist. She draws anywhere and everywhere—but mostly in her own notebook. When Bea’s first and only best friend Yvonne moves to Australia, not even drawing makes Bea feel better. And things only get worse when a loud, rambunctious boy moves in next door. He’s nothing at all like Yvonne! But with a little imagination and a whole lot of doodles, Bea Garcia might just make a new friend.
This first book in a brand-new chapter book series is a must-read for doodlers everywhere.
Review: I am loving learning more about early middle grade books, and Bea Garcia is going to be a protagonist that will be welcomed in this group of books. Bea will join forces with so many strong girls that 4th through 6th graders can read about. What I love about Bea’s story is that it is one that so many readers will relate to. She deals with losing a best friend and a bully moving into her classroom and neighborhood. She also has a supportive and real family that will reflect many families out there. Also, I loved Deborah Zemke’s illustrations throughout. They really brought Bea’s personality, dreams, and thoughts.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Bea’s story will be one that can be used to start so many discussions while being read aloud. It is a perfect story to discuss different types of people, bullying, friendship, school, etc. Also, I think it would be interesting to discuss the addition of illustrations and even voice with students. One idea would be to read aloud part of the story without showing the illustrations and discuss how the illustrations help the story and how Bea’s voice is crafted.
Discussion Questions: Bea uses drawing to think through her emotions. What do you use to help think through your emotions?; What would have been a different way that Bea could have dealt with Bert?; Is there a time that you lost a best friend? How did you deal with it?; How would Bea’s story have been different without illustrations?
Flagged Passages: “We played together at recess and after school, on weekends and vacations, running back and forth in the backyards from my house to her house.
One winter day, we rolled a snowball from her yard to mine and back a hundred times until it was the biggest snowball in the world. Then we turned the snowball into a giant Snow Kitty.
I don’t think Sophie liked Snow Kitty.
When it was warm, we played in the crabapple tree that was just the right size for us to climb.
It was a magic tree.” (p. 20-21)
Read This If You Loved: Amelia’s Notebook series by Marissa Moss, Popularity Papers series by Amy Ignatow, Mackenzie Blue series by Tina Wells, Middle School series by Jenni L. Holm
**Thank you to Deborah for providing the book for review!**