Jessica Scott Kerrin's Martin Bridge: Ready for Takeoff! (Martin Bridge) looked like a rather dull early reader where a young boy has experiences and learns valuable life lessons. And that's true, except that it wasn't dull, and the book is aimed more at a third grade level than a first grade, and I found the dilemmas he faced complex and interesting, even if aimed at an elementary audience. The first story, with the accidental redemption of the cranky bus driver, surprised me with the power of its sweet (and predictable) ending. The second chapter's friendship issue with the rocket-painting controversy felt real rather than annoying, and ended with very satisfactory explosions. The final section dealt with death and deceit in a way calling out for young book club discussions. I'm trying to get my fifth grader to read it, or maybe even my seventh grader. He's always game to read anything.
In my quest to read a book from every shelf in my home town library, I've already found some clunkers. Granted, I've only read picture books and series books, and my expectation of the latter is snobbishly low. So it's a very pleasant surprise to really enjoy a book I expected to force myself through.
For a final bit of pleasure, the author is Canadian, so this counts toward my foreign author tally!