Stella Batts Needs a New Name (series #1)
What You Need to Know:|
• Unhappy with the name her parents gave her, Stella tries out a new identity, but finds that it only leads to further
complications both at home and at school.
• Short chapters and frequent illustrations make this book very accessible for newly independent readers.
• Stella's mom is pregnant and expecting a boy.
• Her mother also happens to be afraid of elevators because she was once stuck in one.
• This book is the first in the series. Three others were also published in 2012, and four more are in the works.
If I were in third grade, I would want to be friends with Stella Batts. And I'm not just saying that because her parents own Batts Confections, complete with a garden made of candy. Stella is a sweet, thoughtful girl with hopes of someday becoming a writer. She is also a typical third grader struggling with some classic elementary school concerns.
When a classmate, Joshua, makes fun of her name, calling her Smella, Stella is too embarrassed to even speak of the incident. In fact, she's so upset, she decides to change her name. Stella shares this secret with her closest friends, and they all decide to change their names too. Her best friend, Willa, picks the name Caramel, and Stella immediately wishes she had come up with it first. Caramel happens to be a candy that she loves, and it can be shortened to not one, but two nicknames. When she suggests they both take that name, Willa is not happy. Stella decides to try a tactic that her mom used when she got upset with her sister Penny for copying her. She explains to Willa that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" but Willa doesn't buy it. A new name no longer seems quite so appealing to poor Stella.
While the action is limited in this story, there are plenty of details about what it is like to be a third grader. Written in the first person, readers learn straight from Stella about school trips, 3rd grade math, carpools, and even the card game, Spit. The friendships are positive and respectful, and even when there is conflict, either among the girls or with the bully, Joshua, it is easily resolved. Stella's friend Arielle, is an interesting character. Although quiet, she is the only one confident enough to stick with her given name, even when the other girls all decide to change theirs. Stella shares a few good lessons about identity, behavior and friendship. The black and white illustrations are warm and cheery and serve as a nice complement to this lighthearted story.
Jennifer A. Bell
2012, 144 pages
Friendship, Identity, School, Siblings
• Why is Stella unhappy with her name?
• Does choosing a new name make Stella feel better about herself?
• Have you ever wanted to change your name? Why, and what would you pick?
• Do you agree with Stella's mom that imitation is a form of flattery?
• Why does Stella reveal her secret to her friends? Was that a good decision?
• Is it OK to make fun of someone if they can't hear you?
• In what ways is Joshua a bully? What else could Stella do to deal with him?
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