by Andrea Davis Pinkney
- publisher and date: Hyperion Books for Children, 1997
- genre: realistic fiction
- age/grade: grades 2-3, Ages 7-9, Guided Reading Level M
Synopsis (from the back cover):
More than anything, Cass wants to join the best double Dutch jump-rope group in the neighborhood, the Fast Feet Four. The problem is, Cass has slow feet. She can barely jump with one rope, never mind two. If only she could jump double Dutch as well as she can rattle off her times tables…
Author’s Perspective (from the back cover):
When I was growing up , I lived on a street in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Whenever I think back to that special place, I hear music. Not the kind of music that played on the radio, but street music: the quiet scratch of a metal snow shovel; the hiss of bike tires on teh sidewalk; the giggly chatter of me and my girlsfreinds; and the distant holler of my mom calling me in for supper. Solo Girl is a slice of these sweet musical memories.
Character – Cass has many characteristics that different kids can relate to. She lives with a loving foster mom, has just moved to a new neighborhood, and is trying to fit in with a new group of friends. She is a very smart girl who is “blessed with the numbers gift. (title of the first chapter). “But when it came to playground stuff – kickball, hopscotch, and jump rope – Cass was as shy as they come. She because she had slow feet.” (page 4) She works hard to learn how to jump double Dutch and join the Fast Feet Four.
Theme – Working to overcome obstacles and fitting in. Cass sets a goal (learning to jump double Dutch) and achieves this goal through hard work and tenacity. The theme of fitting in is presented in such a way that Cass is able to join in with a group of girls, but does not change who she is. Her strengths, math, lead her to the opportunity of learning double Dutch.
Setting – The new neighborhood is important because double Dutch is part of the music of the setting. This creates the opportunity for Cass to learn the game.
- Write a rhyme – Write your own Fast Feet Four (or Fast Feet Five) jumping rhyme
- National Double Dutch League – http://www.nationaldoubledutchleague.com/
- History of Double Dutch – http://www.nationaldoubledutchleague.com/History.htm
Another in the series of “Hyperion Chapters Books” designed for newly emergent readers, Solo Girl is about a young girl named Cass. Cass and her twin brothers are foster children who have just moved to a new neighborhood. Most of the girls in the neighborhood do fancy rope jumping in their spare time, and Cass wants to become a part of the team. Although she is good at math, Cass can’t seem to get her feet to work as well. The eight chapters deal with Cass’ attempts to become an accepted part of the neighborhood, and her courage in mastering a difficult task. The author draws on her childhood experiences to paint this realistic, cultural portrait.
Gr 2-3A story that conveys several important messages. African-American third-grader Cass and her twin brothers, Jackson and Bud, have moved to a new neighborhood to live with their foster mother. While the boys find friends and quickly adjust to their new surroundings, Cass feels alone and misses her friends. Although smart, particularly in math, she cannot jump rope and envies four girls who can. However, she is taken in by the closely knit community in which neighbors look out for one another, and kindness is the watch word. In exchange for jump-rope lessons, Cass helps one of the girls pass her summer school math class. After demonstrating her newfound jumping skills, Cass is befriended by the group she once envied. In the process, she is given support by her brothers and gains community acceptance and some much needed confidence. Cass is a lively, sensitive girl, and young readers will relate to her problems. With its large print and short chapters, this story is ideal for children making the transition from beginning readers to chapter books.Carol Jones Collins, Montclair Kimberley Academy, NJ