Izzy Barr, Running Star is the third “early” chapter book in Franklin School Friends series that feature confident, capable, ten year old (Gr. 3) female protagonists. Her friend Kelsey excels in reading, Annika at math, and now Izzy is a star athlete. Despite her outstanding athletic abilities, Izzy has other real life issues with which she must cope: sibling rivalry between herself and half-brother, Dustin, for their father’s attention and interest in their respective sporting events; rivalry with a classmate who also wants to be the fastest runner in their grade; and, a report assignment that promises to be difficult for her. As the story evolves, readers learn some facts about marathon running and Greek mythology through Izzy’s research for her report. Broader themes surround the issues of peer friendships and the importance of maintaining and repairing family relationships. Seven year old Hannah had this to say about Izzy Barr, Running Star: “I think it was really cool when Izzy zoomed ahead of Skipper to finish the race first. When they read this book, kids would learn that you can’t get distracted while you are running; and, that you need to say ‘sorry’ if you tell your Dad that you didn’t want him to watch your race when, really, you did want him to be there very much.”
Claudia Mills creates realistic characters and life situations to which students in Gr. 1-3 can easily relate. Izzy’s struggles to tell her father her true feelings, and understand her brother are common problems, as are the ups and downs of her peer friendships. Readers will “sympathize with the daily trials and tribulations of Izzy and her friends and see themselves and their world reflected in the diverse interests and families depicted” in these stories. Shepperson’s occasional full-page, black and white illustrations bring an added perspective to some of the book’s important scenes.
Other books in the Franklin School Friends series: Kelsey Green, Reading Queen; Annika Riz, Math Whiz.