September 05, 2016

Gabby, Wonder Girl

by Joyce Grant
Illustrated by Jan Dolby
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
32 pp.
Ages 5-7
September 2016

Joyce Grant and Jan Dolby’s little Gabby, of earlier books Gabby (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013) and Gabby, Drama Queen (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013), is taking on the world again, this time to solve a mystery of a photograph through questioning.

When Gabby’s friend Roy becomes engulfed in a pile of question marks that he’s released from her magic book–the one that usually just releases a multitude of letters–the two characters become super sleuths, Wonder Girl and Super Roy, on the trail of the person in the black-and-white photograph Gabby discovers in her backyard.  Using letters from the book and the question marks, Gabby creates the wonder-ful “Who?” that helps them realize the girl in the photo is Mrs. Oldham, her neighbour.  But the two can’t find her and have to amalgamate a “w” (wafting in the wind), “h” (half-hidden in a hammock), “e” (in the electric car), “r” (resting on a race track), and another “e” (on Roy’s elbow) with one of the ubiquitous question marks to locate the older woman in the apple tree!  With some reorganization of letters and a slithery snake, the question of “how?” they can get her out of the tree and free her to make a proffered apple pie is solved!
From Gabby, Wonder Girl 
by Joyce Grant, illus. by Jan Dolby
Joyce Grant’s cutie pie shows off her inquisitiveness and invention with gusto and creativity.  Who knew learning to use questions could be so much fun?  With a simple story, Joyce Grant offers very young readers an introduction to letters of the alphabet while manipulating them into words that provide the basis for questions and simple words.  Those of us more proficient in reading know of the versatility of letters to create new words and worlds but, for the very young, Gabby, Wonder Girl will be a revelation in learning housed in an unassuming but entertaining format.  No need to learn about letters from a standard A-B-C book when you have Gabby.  And Jan Dolby makes sure that Gabby, Wonder Girl (as she did in the earlier Gabby books) is a fun read of bright colours and squiggly lines and quirky details like a garden gnome, hedgehogs, butterflies and yards of letters.  Gabby really is a red-haired wonder girl in both language and action, and Roy plays superbly as her masked sidekick.  
From Gabby, Wonder Girl 
by Joyce Grant, illus. by Jan Dolby
Chidlren will love Gabby Wonder Girl, as they have Gabby and Gabby, Drama Queen, but parents and teachers will enjoy helping them experience Gabby’s learning opportunities in the fun word activites and games as well as drawing lesson that Joyce Grant and Jan Dolby provide at the end of the book.  There’s even a Gabby teachers’ guide that can be accessed online at  Gabby, Wonder Girl is a big package of learning in a small but bright little marvel of a book.

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