McBay, B. (2008). Angles Inc. Vancouver: Tradewink Books.
After feeling truly happy one day in her neighborhood, Wendy decides she wants everyone to be as happy as she is. Enlisting the help of her reluctant friend Zach, she decides to regularly help people in different ways whether they want her help or not. While the number of angry neighbors begins to add up, Wendy and Zach become more dedicated to their cause, forming Angels Inc. and planning to help someone each week. Little do Wendy and Zach know, they're close to discovering a greater good that they can do for their neighbors.
Angels Inc. touches on a sense of community and helpfullness that may seem foreign in many areas, but is nonetheless a sense that is inherently childlike and optimistic, although a little didactic in moments.
This would be a good book to offer to a child who is ready to read early chapter books on their own. An adult should probably remain close by though, since there are some difficult words (spluttered, squashed, wobbled, etc.) for readers still gaining their literacy confidence. But there are illustrations every few pages to help provide students with breaks.
Activities to Do with the Book:
Since there is so much description of setting incorporated into this short chapterbook, a teacher could take advantage of this and use it as an example in a lesson on setting. Students could then write about their own home, playground or city in response to McBay's example.
Also, at various points, Wendy misinterprets people's reactions to her good deeds, while these are meant to be humorous points in the story, they could also be used to trigger a discussion on how people generally express their emotions.
Students could also brainstorm their own ideas of how to help others, perhaps with a teacher emphasizing the fact that it would be good to check with people to make sure they want help. The could also brainstorm other club ideas.
“It was Saturday. The last Saturday in April. No school. A perfect spring day in Vancouver. The houses on Twenty-First Avenue were quickly drying off from the morning rain. Wendy Appleton walked along thinking of the people living there: Mr. and Mrs. Beale, Mrs. Creech and Mrs. Haddock. She thought it was funny the way houses start to look like their owners" (p. 7).
"Wendy wanted everyone in the world to be as happy as she was right now" (p. 9).
"What's the good of doing something for someone if it's not going to be appreciated?"
"An Angel shouldn't expect thanks. It should be..." Wendy searched for the right words.
"A pure act, selfless, without any reward?" suggested Zach.
"That's it. Pure act. I like that" (pp. 48-49).