Mom, did we have to leave California so far behind?

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MORGY MAKES HIS MOVE By Maggie Lewis Illustrated by Michael Chesworth Houghton Mifflin

Ages 6-9

Youngsters will find "Morgy Makes His Move," by first-time author Maggie Lewis a cozy read. Although it deals with a third grader's angst about moving, fitting in, and being bullied, it's also about warm-hearted friendships, families, and neighborhoods.

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Morgy MacDougal-MacDuff misses his old home in sun-drenched California. Now that he's a resident of Puckett Corner, Mass., Morgy is full of misgivings. His new school doesn't have a playground; kids laugh at his name; and fifth-grader Ferguson is picking on him.

But things aren't really as bad as they seem. In early fall, classmate Byron Noonan befriends Morgy, and by Thanksgiving, the whole Noonan clan has embraced Morgy and his family - even Savanna, Morgy's wildly creative and somewhat irresponsible aunt. Her visit brings unwonted excitement to the holiday, as well as some good advice about making friends. When a huge snowstorm hits, everyone comes together in neighborly camaraderie.

Autumn and Thanksgiving give way to the hustle of winter. Amid hockey lessons, a winter fair, and preparations for new additions to Morgy's household, relationships among schoolchildren, their parents, and other adults build realistically to create a satisfying sense of community.

When young readers move from picture books to independent reading, chapter books furnish a perfect transition. This tightly written volume has eight short chapters, each approximately 10 pages long. Chapters are illustrated with one - and sometimes two - appealing, full-page, black-and-white paintings by Michael Chesworth. Grade-schoolers will appreciate the pacing, events, and humor in "Morgy Makes His Move," and adults will be pleased to have such a wholesome book to put in their child's hands.

Although this is Lewis's first children's book, she's no newcomer to the field of writing and editing. Some long-time Monitor readers may remember her as a former staff writer and editor of the Home Forum page.

*Karen Carden writes regularly about children's book for the Monitor.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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