EllRay Jakes Is NOT a Chicken!

EllRay Jakes Is NOT a Chicken!, the first book in a new series by Sally Warner and illustrator Jamie Harper, is a nominee for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

EllRay Jakes is the smallest kid in his third grade class at Oak Glen Primary School, and he’s become the target of a couple of bullies. EllRay isn’t even sure how it started, but he knows that he can’t really tell anyone about it–especially adults–because they’ll just make things even worse.

EllRay‘s problems at school are getting him into trouble, but his dad may have just given him the incentive he needs to keep his nose clean. If EllRay can stay out of trouble for one whole week, Dad will take the family to Disneyland! Now, that’s definitely something to work toward, but can EllRay do it?

Can EllRay stay away from the bullies, behave in class, and keep his temper for an entire week? And when the adults around him get wind that EllRay might be having problems with bullying, what will happen? Will the bullies finally stop, or will things get worse than ever? Can EllRay Jakes prove he’s not a chicken while staying out of trouble? Time will tell…

In many ways, I think this book–and hopefully the rest of the series–fills a void in easy-to-read chapter books. First, it deals with an African-American main character. I haven’t been an elementary librarian very long, but I haven’t come across many realistic fiction titles with African-American protagonists. (If you know of lots of them, please pass the titles along to me!)

Also, bullying is a central theme in the book, but how it’s approached may be different than it is in some other books. EllRay avoids running to adults about the situation because he thinks they’ll just make things worse. While the adult part of me disagrees with this, the part of me that was bullied as a child knows that this can sometimes be true. And while I don’t think EllRay‘s solution to bullying was necessarily the best one, his message of standing up for oneself might help some young readers to find their own inner courage.

EllRay Jakes Is NOT a Chicken!, as mentioned, is the first book in a series. Other books in this series are already out, and there is another on the way. The list below details the titles currently available and the release date for a future title. Hopefully, there will be even more later!

  • EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken!
  • EllRay Jakes Is a Rock Star!
  • EllRay Jakes Walks the Plank!
  • EllRay Jakes the Dragon Slayer!
  • EllRay Jakes and the Beanstalk! (September 12, 2013)

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