Author Shelley Johannes debut novel Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker is a delightful tale of a third-grade girl who does her best thinking upside-down. As you can imagine, this can present some challenges in a normal everyday world. But unlike so many other titles I’ve read of “out of the box” thinkers, this book, while celebrating that trait, also celebrates the joy of finding a way to meet in the middle. We found it an easy to read chapter book at 160 pages that is well-suited to its recommended ages 7 to 10. I opted to use it as read aloud with my little dude and was delighted that I had to make him wait for the next chapter as he wanted storytime to continue each day we read.

My favorite story element was Beatrice’s relationship with her sister, Kate. While not an upside down thinker herself, Kate does give it a try, hanging from the edge of their bunk bed as she mulls whether Beatrice’s passion for pig Latin is acceptable for her language club. I enjoyed the author’s choice to not have Kate become an upside down thinker too but rather celebrated that the two sisters were different and learned how to work more together, maintaining their own individual passions yet finding a way to be accessible to each other. I also appreciated the insight offered by Beatrice neighbor on the value of sisters as one gets older, even if they are a real pain when we’re young.

But it was Beatrice Zinker's pay it forward mentality that seemed to catch my little dude’s attention. Throughout the book, her quirky Upside Down Thinker passion was used to make other people’s day better. In fact, the main storyline involves her desire to carry out a secret daily mission to celebrate individuals unique contributions at school, make sure they know what makes them special. He liked how she used her special talent, unique perspective to make others happy.

In support of the title’s celebration of different perspectives, my little dude and I created an agamograph. An agamograph is an image that appears differently when viewed from a different angle. We found a photo of Epcot’s icon Spaceship Earth during the daytime and at night. We printed it out at 4X6” and cut each image into 1” strips. Then pasted those strips onto a basic white legal size paper alternating daytime, nighttime. Then folded the image like an accordion at each inch. Looking from one side, its a lovely daytime pic and the other is a stunning nighttime image. By happenstance, shortly after we had completed this project, we were enjoying lunch at Dolly Parton’s DreamMore Resort and stumbled on a large agamograph near its lower lobby.

Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker by Shelley Johannes is now available on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.