Agapanthus Hum and the Eyeglasses

Book review by
Mary LeCompte, Common Sense Media
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Engaging book makes kids want to read more.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, in terms of content, there's nothing here to worry about. Quite the opposite; there's much to be praised. The book's imaginative protagonist, sparkling prose, and bright, whimsical illustrations are compelling, more than making up for the sometimes mild and simple plot.

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What's the story?

Agapanthus Hum is one humming, whizzing, twirling little girl who learns the hard way that eyeglasses don't always stay on whizzers' faces. But with a little elementary ingenuity and some help from her exaggeratedly nice parents, this delightfully hyperactive new character solves her problem--and wins the hearts of early readers everywhere.

Is it any good?

AGAPANTHUS HUM AND THE EYEGLASSES is the kind of first chapter book that will make early readers want to read more. It's got it all -- a fun-loving kid as the main character, a gentle story line, interesting and musical phrasing, and irresistibly cute illustrations. From an adult's point of view, the story line is benign -- maybe too much so. It's unsuspenseful, has a loose plot, and seems a bit, well, uninspired. And Agapanthus's parents -- "good little mommy" and "good little daddy" -- are sweet and forgiving beyond reason. But try to tell that to the 4- to 7-year-olds who sat raptly for a reading of this book. Their reaction: The story was "great!" and "fun!" The younger ones had trouble deciding which were their favorite illustrations (they liked them all), and the older ones couldn't wait to get their hands on it to read it on their own.

Why the appeal? Definitely Jennifer Plecas's artwork; her depiction of Agapanthus is charming (and even the dog has personality!). But it's also Cowley's talent for word choices -- not so simple that they're plain and not too complicated that kids won't be able to pronounce or understand them. Cowley's words flow gracefully; they are, at times, even poetic: "Clean glasses made the garden look as sharp as a tune played on a fiddle. Agapanthus twirled, but only a little. She did a butterfly hum on the face of a pink rose."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the qualities that make this chapter-book heroine so memorable. How did Agapanthus Hum get her name? Is her exuberance a good thing, a bad thing, or a little of both? Is she someone you can relate to? Why or why not?

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