The Bell Bandit (Lemonade War) Hardcover – 1 May 2012
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"Davies' real talent is human relationships." --Betsy Bird, New York Public Library and Fuse#8 blog "Davies keeps a tight focus on the children: Points of view switch between Evan, with his empathetic and emotional approach to understanding his world, and Jessie, for whom routine is essential and change a puzzle to be worked out. . . .Each of the siblings brings a personal resilience and heroism to the resolution." --"Kirkus"
"Davies' real talent is human relationships." --Betsy Bird, New York Public Library and Fuse#8 blog
"Davies keeps a tight focus on the children: Points of view switch between Evan, with his empathetic and emotional approach to understanding his world, and Jessie, for whom routine is essential and change a puzzle to be worked out. . . . Each of the siblings brings a personal resilience and heroism to the resolution." --"Kirkus"
"Davies' real talent is human relationships." Betsy Bird, New York Public Library and Fuse#8 blog
"Davies keeps a tight focus on the children: Points of view switch between Evan, with his empathetic and emotional approach to understanding his world, and Jessie, for whom routine is essential and change a puzzle to be worked out. . . . Each of the siblings brings a personal resilience and heroism to the resolution." "Kirkus""
About the Author
Jacqueline Davies is the talented writer of several novels and picture books, including The Lemonade War series and "The Boy Who Drew Birds." Ms. Davies lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family. Visit her website at www.jacquelinedavies.net.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The references in "The Bell Bandit" to the vintage television series "Get Smart" are a fun tip of the hat to adults who may be reading this book to someone or may be having the book read to them. Davies does a good job of developing the story and of tying the various elements together for a satisfying conclusion.
The story touches on several areas needing further development as each may be encountered by a child through contact with someone in their own life. It becomes evident fairly quickly that the elder Mrs. Teski is suffering from some type of Alzheimers-like problem. She has nearly burned down her home because she forgot about a tea kettle heating on her stove; she does not recognize her grandchildren; and she seems to become confused easily. A simple explanation to Evan and Jessie by their mother about the elder Mrs. Teski's memory loss would have been appropriate. Maxwell seems to be an "outcast;" later explanation by his mother to Jessie hints at his potentially having Aspergers. This would have been an excellent opportunity to foster greater understanding of both conditions.
There is one scenario, however, that should have been omitted since "The Bell Bandit" is geared toward the 9 to 12 year age group. In the course of their search for the missing bell, Jessie and Maxwell discover Jeff and Mike Sinclair, budding sociopaths, torturing a frog. The details of the process for the torture are set forth in chapter 11, along with a diagram of the torture device. This could be extremely disturbing to some young readers. It is gratuitous, unnecessary, and unrelated to the overall storyline of the novel. Parents may want to read this portion of "The Bell Bandit" so they can make a decision as to whether their child should be exposed to that specific material. This scenario, by itself, cost "The Bell Bandit" one star and reduced what would have been a 4-star rating to 3 stars.
Evan and Jessies take a trip to there Grandma's house, but it isn't the same. There's a hole in the wall and Grandma isnt quite herself. But most of all the bell is gone! Jessie and her neq friend Maxwell have only a fe days to find the theif while Evan struggles to spend time with his Grandma when sshe can't even remember him.
`The Bell Bandit' takes place several months after `The Lemonade Crime' during Winter Break. This time around Evan, Jessie, and their mom take a road trip to their Grandma's for New Years. As part of this traditional yearly trip, the kids look forward to celebrating the New Year by ringing the old bell on Lovell's Hill.
Jessie in particular is looking forward to this happy bell ringing tradition because she feels it is a way to reconnect not only with Evan, whom she feels is growing away from her; but also to her Grandma who has begun to suffer memory lapses with sometimes devastating consequences. Along the way odd and interesting people enter the scene as one crises after another hits the Treski family.
The Lemonade War, and Crime books both had strong stories that were built around a concept delineated by the chapter titles. For `The Lemonade War" each chapter started with an economics term (perfect for young readers to learn about producers and consumers and the market place). `The Lemonade Crime' chapters started with legal terms, teaching young readers about the court system, lawyers, and defendants. `The Bell Bandit' suffers from not having this same over-arching concept to build around. The story is interesting, but at times loses focus along that way. All in all an enjoyable sequel for faithful fans.
In this third installment in the series, siblings Evan and Jessie together with their mother go to Grandma's house, but Grandma is not home - she is in the hospital after almost burning her home down! The family is there to fulfill a New Year's Eve ritual of ringing a bell which is found on a hill nearby. The siblings and their mother have their hands full, having to deal with Grandma's hospitalization, damages to the house, and a missing bell!
The target group for this book is listed as ages 9 and up, but I would recommend parental discretion here. There are some issues such as Grandma's possible affliction by Alzheimer's which might need explaining to younger readers, as well as several other themes needing further elaboration and discussion. On the whole though, this is an interesting and engaging book that will entertain its target audience.
While I will admit to not being entirely sold on The Lemonade War, I did enjoy The Lemonade Crime more than the first book, and was excited to see how things would develop in this newest title. The Bell Bandit could easily be a stand-alone novel, venturing away from the lemonade plotline. Jessie and Evan are going with their mom to visit their grandmother. Her house accidentally caught on fire after she left the stove on too long and their mom needs to be there to help out and find out what is going on. It is easy to see from book's beginning that their grandmother is no longer herself. She is easily confused and even forgets who her grandchildren are. Jessie becomes friends with a sixth grade boy next door, Maxwell. Maxwell introduces her to Get Smart, an old television show that he enjoys and the two decide to start doing some spying of their own. This is probably a good thing considering Jessie notices the big bell on her Grandma's property has been stolen. The bell has been passed down through the generations and rung on each New Year's Eve by the oldest and youngest resident to ring in the new year.
I love how Davies' books are easily readable by kids not ready for long chapter books. While I wouldn't want to accuse her of trying to teach anything in her books, each contains several topics that are great for discussion. The Bell Bandit could easily lead to discussions about autism, Alzheimer's disease and aging, and friendship. The more I read of the Lemonade War series, the more excited I am about these books. I am recommending them to students and teachers, knowing they will enjoy them a great deal.