Kevin Keeps Up
Written By Amy Whitehead Nagda
Amy Whitehead Nagda truly has a gift for getting inside the life of a middle-grader, especially one with ADHD in her book, Kevin Keeps Up. She does so in an appealing and often humorous manner.
In the first chapter, the teacher explains an assignment while Kevin is busy drawing a spaceship. He desperately tries to cover his lack of attention, but then discovers more details he missed. His favorite teacher will be gone for two weeks and a dreaded substitute will be in charge. Meanwhile, the class will be creating books about African mammals, and everyone knows Kevin prefers snakes. He has problems with the substitute, who really doesn’t understand Kevin or his special relationship with the regular teacher. He tries to annoy the substitute by luring in the school cat with fish sticks and tuna sandwiches, but only manages to fall in love with the cat. He muddles along until he has most of his book finished, having to re-do graphs and copy messy pages. He learns a lot about cheetahs and house cats in spite of himself. Although Kevin gets help from his regular teacher by email, from the librarian, from the PE teacher, and from his classmates, he’s the one who finds the area in which he really shines and inspires a new direction for the rest of the class.
This is a good beginning chapter book for second graders. Kids could handle the reading on their own or read as part of a class project. Reading activities could include learning about and discussion of ADHD, learning more about African mammals and possible creation of the reader’s own book, or even timing hundred-meter dashes and trying to improve times.
The cover art and pencil drawings help make the reader feel a part of Kevin’s adventure.