“As a mom of three girls from ages one to four, I was excited to read the Ambitious Abbey books to my children, especially because I have seen how schools welcome author Abbey Duplaga to share her wise stories with kids! First, I was surprised at how quickly Abbey mailed, and I received the books – within 3 days from purchase! I bought the book bundle and read all 3 books in the series to my two older girls that same afternoon! I am so delighted with the books, both from a mom’s and fellow writer’s perspectives that I wanted to write a review for Abbey so that others would be encouraged to read her series!
Ambitious Abbey, the 1st book in the series, opens with an immediate and precise depiction of who and how the main character is! She is of course ambitious – choosing to work instead of playing on a beautiful Saturday. At a young age, the character Abbey is already entrepreneur-minded in a very relatable way – by managing her lemonade stand. This introduction is sure to draw young readers into Abbey’s world and character. Character Abbey is adorable as illustrated – she is super cute with her pigtails, approachable, and gives off a kind demeanor. I love how this first book showcases a precious bond between mom and daughter by using words such as “Sweetie,” and phrases such as “Abbey watches closely at her mother in awe.” As readers, we can see how Abbey’s mom – an entrepreneur and leader – influences and will continue to influence Abbey. I especially love all the details about what Abbey’s mom does at the Bakery because they make the story detailed, relatable, and interesting to read! One thing that stands out to me is the vulnerability shared about how the Bakery is a new endeavor for Abbey’s mom, so we get to see how Abbey’s mom handles a new type of situation that requires impromptu leadership decisions. This is another insight into how Abbey will learn from her mom how to handle new challenges that arise over the course of her life and how she will resolve to be independent and ambitious amidst obstacles and new and unforeseen situations!
Ambitious Abbey Takes the Lead, the 2nd book in the series is genius in that it showcases multiple, relatable problems which young readers can take initiative to solve! Each young reader will be able to identify with at least one problem that they can address in their surroundings. What’s so noteworthy and brilliant about this second book is that it shows children how to be a leader by serving! This is something that I deeply desire to teach my children: to be a servant at heart because that’s the greatest quality to have! In a world where selfish ambition seems to be the drive, it’s refreshing and novel to teach our children – especially via stories like this one – that true leadership is actually great servanthood, and that there are many opportunities all around us which invite us to this position. I believe each child has an innate desire to be unique and special, and this book shows them how to accomplish that in a humble and selfless manner. Abbey wasn’t looking for selfish self-promotion or popularity: she just wanted to serve in ways that made others and situations better which resulted in her standing out as a leader! Kudos Abbey Duplaga for writing such a meaningful story with a profound message in such a relatable way! It’s also appropriate and interesting to see the character Abbey cast among peers in this 2nd book, after being casted alongside an adult for the 1st book – again, makes for a very relatable read! (I also smiled at how Abbey’s mom made a special appearance at the end of the story with her treats, haha! What a nice way to transition between book #1 and book #2.)
Before reading Ambitious Abbey Tries Again, the 3rd book in the series, I assumed that the lesson of not giving up would come when the character Abbey would have to decide if to go fishing the second time after failing the first time. However, Abbey Duplaga again writes the story so cleverly that we see the character Abbey not giving up from the beginning! This is where Abbey’s character truly shines through because nowhere do we see her father – oh yes, she is cast with an adult in this book – offering her suggestions to improve her fishing situation. It’s all Abbey using her reasoning ability and initiative to make changes to be successful! In a subtle way, this gives young readers courage and permission to be independently creative and problem solvers without needing constant prodding, direction, and validation from anyone! I wish I had known this when I was a child growing up, because I was micromanaged a lot and had to learn this valuable lesson that “it’s ok to fail but try again and in different ways” in my adulthood! The culmination of Abbey’s determination occurs when after failing the first time, she has to decide if it’s worth visiting the fishing pond again. I find it brilliant that Abbey Duplaga wrote the story this way to show us that even if we fail after trying all we know to do the first time, we should be willing and open to trying yet again if it is something worth doing! I find myself at present trying to teach my oldest daughter not to give up, especially not too quickly. For example, I’ll send her to retrieve an object for me knowing that it’s possible for her to find it, but instead of looking thoroughly, she’ll look in a very few places and then return to tell me that she couldn’t find it. This book is a treat to read to her because it shows her how to be diligent and determined!
In closing, the Ambitious Abbey series is a worthy read, both for myself and with my children! The lines are short, witty, and rhyme, which is of course a major plus for younger children’s attention span and understanding. I now look forward to each new book in the series as these books will be on repeat read for my children to learn from! These days, when my two older girls are not making fish pout faces to mimic The Pout-Pout Fish, they’re chanting “ambitious abbey” hahaha: they love the sound of that name! And of course, these books are now on my gift guide for anyone and everyone who has children in their care! Thank you, Abbey Duplaga for writing such phenomenal children’s books that teach worthy values using delightful characters and stories!”
- Sarah A. Sarjuprasad, Queens, NY