Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins
by Elizabeth Doyle Carey
Reviewed by Sue Ritchie, TeacherVision® Director
Move over Nancy Drew!Remember curling up for hours, lost in the complex world of the Nancy Drew books? Well, Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins by Elizabeth Doyle Carey is sure to remind you of enduring classics like those, as well as The Bobsey Twins and the American Girl series. Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins is a refreshing and charming story with timeless themes and characters. Hillary and her three Callahan cousins (Phoebe, Neeve, and Kate) travel to Gull Island to spend the summer with their grandmother, Gee. A generations-old feud with another island family goads the cousins into upholding their family honor. Elizabeth Doyle Carey, the author, is a former children's book editor, lives in New York City with her husband and children, and has 25 first cousins.
Good, Clean FunWhat is so refreshing about this book is its homespun simplicity and lack of objectionable topics or action. There's no violence, swearing, or sex just good, clean fun with a little adventure thrown in. The characters are not goodie-goodies, by any means they have dimension, personality, and issues. The girls solve their problems with logic and common sense. Throughout the book there runs an undercurrent of the Callahan sense of family ties and spirit.
Positive Role ModelsThe Callahan cousins provide good role models for 'tweens. Each of the girls has an interesting, easy-to-relate-to personality, and positive, believable skills. They work well together, show great loyalty to each other, and accomplish tasks they couldn't do on their own. The grandmother is a caring but not overly involved adult. She gives the girls enough room, support, and respect to be independent.
Ready for the ClassroomWhether you use it as a read-aloud, a group read, or an independent assignment, Callahan Cousins: Summer Begins provides the basis for exploring many themes and extensions. The social/emotional issues of divorce, diversity, friendship, family, and independence are some of the possible areas for exploration. Each chapter can easily be read in one class period. The book is a 6.1 grade reading level, and would be interesting to children (particularly girls) ages 10-14. You'll find your kids begging to read the next chapter on their own!
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