Katie Woo Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Katie Woo Series Book Poster Image
Relatable stories in short chapters have good life lessons.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

This series uses simple, age-appropriate words to model empathy, persistence, and optimism.

Positive Messages

Katie learns from her mistakes, owns up to lying, and faces disappointment at school. But when things go wrong for Katie and her friends, they don't stay mad or disappointed, and they always help one another.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Parents, teachers, and friends are supportive and guide the kids through situations. And the kids' adventures in their neighborhood and school (Halloween, losing a class pet, welcoming a new kid) are activities young readers can see themselves doing.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fran Manushkin's Katie Woo series is relatable, inclusive, and teeming with positivity. Katie gets mad about things most young readers do as well -- she didn't get the part she wanted in the school play, or her Halloween costume is disappointingly not scary -- but things are resolved quickly and happily. The ways Katie deals with classroom teasing, theft, and her own lies are particularly well done. What's nice is that Katie and her friends learn their life lessons and move on; feelings don't stay hurt for long. These books have lovely illustrations and are published in two ways: one story per book (each about 25 pages, with very short chapters) and as a compilation of several stories in one book (each about 100 pages, and each story is a chapter).

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What's the story?

In the KATIE WOO series, early elementary school student Katie is a kid young readers can relate to. She usually has fun with her friends, but sometimes she gets teased. She has great ideas, but she gets sad when they don't work out the way she wants. Katie, with her friends JoJo and Pedro, deal with hurt feelings and lost animals and navigating the ever-changing social situations at school. Katie means well, but gets in her share of trouble -- and then gets out of it, learning lessons along the way.

Is it any good?

These are great stories for beginning readers. The sentences and the content are simple but engaging, and the illustrations are colorful and expressive. Asian-American Katie Woo has friends of every color, so all readers will see someone who looks like them on the pages.

It's nice that Katie isn't overdone as a character -- she isn't sassy and doesn't go for cheap laughs. She's just a regular kid who deals with situations all kids do, and does it in a way kids can relate to. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Katie Woo reacts when she's upset. How would you react if a friend had a toy you wanted? Would you lie to get it?

  • What is Katie thinking about when she's getting teased? Have you been teased at school? Have you teased anyone?

  • What other books have friends who celebrate holidays together?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship tales and Asian-American characters

Themes & Topics

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