“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three • Middle-grade fiction

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three
by Megan McDonald

August 2009 • Candlewick Press • Middle-grade fiction • Ages 9 - 12
A brand-new book in the Sisters Club series from best-selling author Megan McDonald!
Story: Alex has always been the Actor-with-a-capital-A in the Reel family, and middle-sister Stevie has always been content to stay behind the scenes. But when auditions for the school musical are announced, Stevie decides that maybe she’s tired of being the Sensible One. Maybe, for once, she’d like to be the one in the spotlight.
Story behind the story: The Sisters Club is the perfect series for readers who love Megan’s laugh-out-loud humor, but are looking to transition from Judy Moody to older chapter books. Megan McDonald is also the youngest of five sisters. She knows a thing or two about the ups and downs of sisterhood.
A special announcement: Drum roll, please. Candlewick is thrilled to announce a better-than-best-ever e-newsletter for teachers: Megan McDonald’s Totally RARE Teachers’ Club! Sign up
today for:

  • behind the scenes with Megan McDonald

  • classroom activities and downloadable materials

  • advance announcement of upcoming contests and giveaway

  • and, the chance to exchange ideas with other teachers on using Megan’s books in your curriculum!

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent and reviews are in the works; please check back and click on the "comments" link below to read what your colleagues have to say.


Aubrey Heusser said...

I enjoyed this book more than I expected I would. The narrator is instantly likeable - not perfect, but trying her best. She's a good role model because she doesn't try to hide her intelligence.

The few things I didn't like included an overuse of slang, and the characters' disrespectful attitude toward their parents (though that improves somewhat by the end of the book). The "notebook" pages that appear between chapters were a little distracting, but fun and sometimes essential to the plot. The junior-high drama (mostly regarding boys and teen-magazine quizzes) may not be relevant to some readers in the target age range, and the plot could go on just fine without these minor parts.

Lots of descriptive detail made this interesting to read and easy to get lost in. All of the literary references were fun for me, and dropped in very naturally so readers won't feel like they're studying. The chapters are a very easy length, not at all intimidating for young readers, even those in the target range who are below their grade-level. It looks like it's going to be a pretty hefty hardcover, so I hope kids will open it up to see that the inside is something they can definitely handle.

The plot is fairly simple but not lacking, and develops at a good pace that makes you want to find out what happens next. The message of sisterly love and forgiveness is clear without being preachy, and Sock Monkey acting as Alex's conscience is especially well done.

I give this book a 4 for the older end of the target age range (11-12), but a 3 for the younger end (8-9).

Tina's Blog said...

Rule of Three by Megan McDonald is a book that I would have loved to read in my own middle grade years. I enjoyed the story between three sisters: Alex, Stevie, and Joey. Each sister is unique and has their own set of talents. When Stevie decides to try out for a play, something Alex is known as having talent for, she doesn't tell anyone of her plans at first. Both sisters want the lead in the musical....without giving away the ending, I will say that I was pleased by the way this was resolved and with the maturity and reasoning the characters show. Maybe some middle grade readers will benefit from this example of maturity and good decision making.
I think that readers will enjoy the notebook page additions between chapters and little quizzes that are included more than I did. While some of them were necessary to the plot because they revealed a different voice, being narrated by a different sister, they also confused me from time to time as I would forget who was narrating. I am not sure kids who read these would pay attention enough to pick that up.
McDonald's references to Louisa May Alcott, Little Women and other "school things" like the name for groups of animals all help to make this book educational without feeling that way at all.
I look forward to another addition to this new Sisters Club series by McDonald.

EShay said...

Although the plot line is fairly predictable, the pages that contain other characters' thoughts and feelings add a great deal to this book. The pages that look like those out of a notebook are so cute and add a great deal to the speed with which I read the book. These pages gave insightful information and truly helped propel the book forward.
Not to be forgotten are the literary references - much about Alcott and Shakespeare. These were fun and helpful.
It really was a quick read and I think would be appealing to later elementary girls especially.
The cover is extremely eye catching and fun.
I enjoyed that each girl had a specific talent and never appeared weak. It denotes great "girl power".
A sweet story with many feel good moments.
I give it a 3.5.

Julie P. said...

I was so excited when I received THE SISTERS CLUB: RULE OF THREE by Megan McDonald to read and review. My initial thoughts were that the book sounded like something Booking Daughter would love; and then I saw the adorable cover I knew this book was going to be a winner with middle grade girls. In fact, the girls at my daughter's school were all over this book. I guess what surprised me was how much I actually enjoyed the story.

I think this book is just precious! I absolutely fell in love with the characters in this story -- both the three sisters as well as their parents. I thought Ms. McDonald captured the feel of this family and made their relationships very realistic (especially the fights between the sisters.) I also really liked the humor that Ms. McDonald incorporated into this book. Both Booking Daughter and I were laughing a lot when we read RULE OF THREE!

I liked that Stevie (the middle sister) was the narrator for a lot of this story because her thoughts about life were so insightful; however, I also liked that the reader got glimpses of Alex and Joey through some of the other chapters. Mixed into the narrative are other entertaining sections -- like conversations Alex has with her sock monkey, various quizzes, and Joey's adorable drawings and obsession with the book LITTLE WOMEN.

As a mother, I really liked the overall messages in this book. Of course the main idea was that sisters stand by each other no matter what. Despite all of the competition and fighting that took place between Alex and Stevie, they ultimately decided to support each other because their relationship was so important to both of them. Some of the other messages that I liked in this story were the importance of honesty, forgiveness and self-confidence -- I think kids need to hear these concepts all the time. And, I really liked how the author conveyed the need for children to discover and nurture their own special talents.

Megan McDonald is a well known name in our household because she is the author of the Judy Moody and Stink books. A few years ago, I'm pretty sure that my daughter read every Judy Moody and Stink book that were available. I remember that she really liked the books and laughed a lot while reading them. I think both of the series are terrific for children who are ready to read chapter books because they have great characters and keep the kids' interest. Make sure you check out Ms. McDonald's website because there are lots of goodies for kids as well as writers and teachers.

RULE OF THREE is the second book in The Sisters Club Series. The minute Booking Daughter finished this book, I had to run to the library to get the first one. I couldn't believe how much she loved these books. She read through THE SISTERS CLUB as quickly as she read RULE OF THREE, and I'm sure that she's going to read every book in this series as it comes out. Not only did she love the stories, but she absolutely adored the three sisters! Instead of trying to describe her thoughts to you, I'll let you read them for yourself:

I think THE SISTERS CLUB: RULE OF THREE was really good. I liked it better than the first book. It is definitely in my top five favorite books ever. I liked the message and that the sisters did everything for each other. I also liked how Alex talks to sock monkey. Sock monkey is funny. I really liked the characters in the story. There were funny and changed feelings throughout the story.

Rating: 4.5/5

Carol said...

I can see how this book would work as one idea in a series. That would be helpful in feeling attached enough to the characters, to forgo some action. It felt natural to reflect upon the relationship of the three sisters. Being the first Sister Club book I have read, I felt some disconnect to who the characters really were. What did not work for me was, the changing of the narrator by adding in some journal pages and other additives that were narrated by a different character. I often couldn't follow who was actually talking at particular times. If this was a format that was throughout a series, it would make more sense.

I loved the idea of the sisters trying out for the same play and it was very much realistic to think about middle school kids in this sort of friendly competition. I do wish the author focused more on the tryouts and the play, although I liked how she weaved in the baking contest and the younger sister flip flopping between the two sisters. The sisters were believable...I just wanted more of them. I wanted to feel more attached then I was. I will say that this book's ending made up for the slow start, and in the end I did want to know more about the sisters and their lives.

I would rate this a 3.5

Carol Null
Pemetic Elementary School

Lemon the Duck said...

The voice of all three of the sisters came through strongly. The notebook page entries added humor and helped the reader better understand the inner workings of the adolescent mind!
The ending was satisfying and showed maturity. They're growing up!
I rate this book a 4 out of 5.
Laura Backman
Reading Specialist
Author of "Lemon the Duck"

Stacy said...

Previous reviews are very accurate, so let me take another route in reviewing. This book is a great springboard for in class activities. It works well as a read-aloud to grades 3-5. Have students read the dialogue/script pages like a play when you reach those pages. Have them take the quizzes interspersed throughout. Have them research some of the allusions such as Mr. Bean, Sock Monkey, Pickwick Club, meerkats...make up your own lists as you pre-read the book so they can report when you read get to the allusion. To coordinate with music, have them listen to the song list on page 82. Have them write a poem "I Wanna Go to..." like on page 218. To coordinate with social studies,research and write a list of state facts like page 163. Have a cupcake decorating contest referring to something in the book. I wish the book gave recipes seeing it was such a major plot element.

The book ruins the plot of Alcott's Little Women, so if you have advanced readers, you could recommend them to read the classic first. Anyone who likes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series would like this book, especially girls to have the female narrator. Overall I would give this a solid 3 rating.

Anonymous said...

The Sisters Club: Rule of Three-I rate a 4 out of 5. I was drawn into this story in a personal way being one of four sisters and having two daughters myself. My one daughter prefers this style layout of notebook entries. This is a good story and great characters to become attached to in a way of commitment to continue with the series.

Julia Pitau said...

After requesting The Sisters Club: Rule of Three, I ran out and bought the first book The Sisters Club and fell in love with the three sisters: Alex, Stevie, and Joey. These characters were very endearing to me, especially growing up with three other sisters myself. I would have to say the sequel is every bit as good as the first book. I could relate with each situation the girls went through from the green-eyed monster of jealousy to being protective of the youngest in not wanting her to have to experience sadness when one of her favorite characters in Little Women dies.

Already being requested, I believe this book will be a hit and I give it a Picnic Rating of 4.5!

Shall we expect a third round from Megan McDonald? I think so, if as Stevie says, "...things are better when they come in threes."

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Michelle said...

This was the first Sisters Club book that I read. I enjoyed seeing the events of the book through all the girl's eyes. This is a great way to teach children that there is more than one side to any story.I give it a 4 ou 5.

Carrie Blagg, Cherokee Elementary School said...

"The Sisters Club: Rule of Three" is a wonderful story of three sisters each with their own unique personality. Although there are differences and at times conflict, sisterhood wins hands down.

I loved the way Megan McDonald brought out each girl's personality through the different notebook pages whether it be Alex dialoguing with the sock monkey, Joey and her lists, or Stevie's quizzes. I truly loved Stevie's cupcake making which matched her mood at that precise moment.

I give this book a 5 out of 5!

Katharine H. 3rd grade teacher said...

This book is definitely a winner with the 11 and 12 year old range. Girls would love the realistic characters and conversations as well as the notebook pages that are interspersed into the story.

I especially enjoyed all the references to Little Women and would hope that enjoying this book would entice a reader to go on to the classic.

On the otherhand, I did catch myself confusing the sisters, especially as the narrator changed without warning on some of the chapters. I am not sure if the other books in the series do that, or if I would know the characters well enough to catch on faster if I had read the other books, but I did find myself having to reread to clarify who was speaking. I think this would definitely be tough for a younger reader. I give this book a 4 out of 5 for that reason.

Martine Battista said...

This book had more meat than I expected. At first glance I thought it was going to be a fluffy story about 3 sassy sisters. I was pleasantly surprised to find a solid story and engaging characters. I already have several students in mind who would love this series. I wasn't fond of Alex's interjections or Joey's entries. I don't think they were necessary to propel the story. But those minor issues aren't enough to keep me from loving Alex, Stevie and Joey. I look forward to their next sister drama. I give it a 4.5.
Denair Elementary Library
Denair, CA

Pamela Kramer said...

I enjoyed reading "The Sisters Club: Rule of Three." Because of the popularity of her Judy Moody books, I was prepared for it to be great.

I loved the "notebook" drawings and writings. For me, it made the book like a "Wimpy Kid" book for older, girl readers. That was much needed. The story is upbeat, realistic (although these sisters get along better than I did with my sister!) and concludes nicely. I also love books with food in them--especially dessert!

I give it a 4 out of 5.

Natalie H. said...

The Rule of Three in the Sisters Club series is a good read with nice messages about sisterhood. Many girls would relate to the sister dramas throughout the book. Stevie, Alex and Joey are believable characters. I quickly became attached to the narrator, Stevie, and wanted to read on to find out her story. I liked the scripts (written by Alex) and journals/lists (written by Joey) which were sprinkled throughout the book and how they provided essential pieces of the story. I didn't think the quizzes were necessary and sometimes referenced people/things that would be over the heads of the girls in the recommended age group (8-11). I give this book 3/5 and would recommend it to 8-10 year old girls as a fun read.

Stacy B. said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Sisters Club: Rule of Three". It shows how jealousy among sisters can be handled (or perhaps not handled!) and the intended audience will find elements that they can certainly relate with among the characters.

Teachers can use this book to discuss point of view as it is a good example of how characters see the same situation differently.

I would recommend this book for your classroom library!

The Black Family said...

This book was an OK middle-grade novel. The relationship between the sisters didn't seem as developed as I would have liked, but perhaps one needs to read the entire series to get that connection. The quizzes in the middle were annoying to me and detracted from the story. I think they would take readers off track. The plot was ok, predictable, but fun. Overall a 3 out of 5.

Lindsey B.
Title I Teacher

Tasses said...

Please see my review on Reading Rumpus

Thank You

Cheryl Vanatti
reading Specialist
Picnic Basket Rating 4