Author Marti Dumas just published the fourth and fifth books in her Jaden Toussaint series. This series of early reader books is a favorite in our household because of its smart, sassy main character. Each book offers a new adventure, but one thing always remains the same: Jaden has a gigantic brain and if he thinks about a problem long enough (and holds an impromptu dance party) he’ll get a swirly, whirly, zinging feeling that tells him he’s on the right track.
The Jaden Toussaint Series — Episodes 4 and 5
The entire Jaden Toussaint series offers young readers a relatable cast of characters. Jaden, who is very sure of his ability to outsmart his parents and is always cooking up a fun new scheme. His older sister Sissy, who helps Jaden solve his problems even though he sometimes annoys her. Jaden’s parents, who are always there to rein him in. And in the new books, Episodes 4 and 5, we get to know Jaden’s kindergarten friends a little better.
In Episode 4: Attack of the Swamp Thing, Jaden is devastated that Sissy gets to go to Camp Planet Earth without him. His parents make it up to him by organizing a group overnight outing at the local zoo with his friends. Jaden is ecstatic about this compromise—until he and his friends discover something lurking in the dark. They’ve all heard the legend of the swamp monster, Loup Garou, but could it be real?
Kids will relate to Jaden’s and his friends’ fear of Loup Garou. But the best part of Episode 4 is that Jaden solves his problems for himself. After several sleepless night, Jaden realizes that Loup Garou is just a story. The power of storytelling lives within Jaden, too, so he can use his smarts make up happy tales that are better than anything the swamp monster has to offer.
Jaden has another scary problem in Episode 5: Mission Star Power. This time, it’s stage fright. Jaden is so self-confident that it takes him some time to identify his fear. Jaden and his friends write a play for their school’s Art Night, and of course Jaden has the starring role of Zeus. But what are those funny feelings? His shaking hands, dry mouth, and tied tongue have Jaden confused. Jaden has to figure out how to overcome his sudden fear of performing in front of the whole school or he’ll never be able to become a famous internet star.
Dumas’ twist on the familiar fear of public speaking is that Jaden doesn’t see it coming. He’s smart, confident, and popular, and yet performing in front of an audience is still hard for him. It’s so helpful when authors combine unexpected personality traits as a reminder that we’re all different and yet we share so much in common.
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We have the entire Jaden Toussaint series that has been released to date, and I recommend them frequently to parents looking for illustrated early readers and diverse books. To hear our podcast interview with author Marti Dumas visit https://www.luandbeanread.com/episode13.