Jerdine Nolen
Max and Jax in Second Grade
Karen Lee Schmidt, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2002
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  Max and Jax in Second Grade


Introducing Max and Jax—they're twins. And though they love each other and share many things together, Max and Jax would rather keep other things private.

It's the end of second grade, and twins Max and Jax are starting the summer right. Jax is having a slumber party with all of her friends. Max and Dad are going on a fishing trip. They will fish all weekend and sleep under the stars.

No one could ever like fishing as much as Max.So, why is it that Jax always catches more fish? Max thinks she's lucky. Jax knows better … but will she tell her brother her secret? Join the fun—right from the start—in the first of many Max and Jax adventures.


“Nolen's (Raising Dragons) catchy debut installment of a beginning reader series introduces Max and Jax, alligator twins who are obviously very devoted to each other. As second grade draws to a close, the siblings each look forward to a big event: for Jax, a sleepover party with her classmates and, for Max, a fishing trip with his father. Though he is historically a far less successful angler than his sister, Max hopes he will catch a big fish this time, since he has just sent away for a new lure, "guaranteed to work." But the "lucky fishing bait" that Jax has thoughtfully made for him using her special recipe (printed on the back cover) is what finally reels in a whopper, which he proudly and gratefully presents to Jax when he returns home. Though Max is in the spotlight here, Jax (who happily hugs her rainbow trout while her friends squeal at the sight of it) emerges as the more distinctive and multi-dimensional character. Some chapters feature very brief chunks of text while others ramble on, but Schmidt's (What Do You Love?) boldly hued, animated cartoon art will serve as bait to lure beginning readers back for more.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Second grade is just about over and the alligator twins are looking forward to summer vacation. Jax is planning her sleepover party and Max is anticipating a fishing trip with his father. The colorful new lure that he ordered by mail will hopefully allow him to fish as well as his sister. Just in case, Jax puts together her secret bait recipe for him. Schmidt gives readers a playful peek at this bacon bit, peanut butter, and wormy combination. As this beginning chapter book proceeds, Max discovers his sister's homemade concoction to be far more effective than the "Guaranteed to work" mail-order lure. When he catches a big, beautiful rainbow trout, he gives it to his sibling. As in her magically tender Raising Dragons (Harcourt, 1998), Nolen shows a gift for straightforward dialogue that leaves readers feeling enchanted without being otherworldly. Schmidt's appealing artwork matches this tone perfectly, creating playful characters that are distinctively human in nature and alligator in form. Young children are sure to find the colorful clothing and smiling faces of the alligators endearing. The uncontained pictures of fish, writings, and numbers that swirl around many of the pages meld the text and illustrations seamlessly.” (Louie Lahana, New York City Public Schools, School Library Journal)

“In this lively chapter book in a delightful new series, brother-and-sister crocodile twins Max and Jax show that their spirits are entwined, no matter how different their personalities and lives may be. Max is ready for second grade to be over so he can spend the summer fishing. Jax wants second grade to be over so that she can conquer all that third grade has to offer. On the first day of vacation, Max goes fishing with his father. Though Jax hosts a sleepover party for her friends, she still finds the time to make her "Secret Lucky Fishing Bait" for Max. When Max finally catches a big rainbow trout, he offers it to Jax with genuine gratitude and fondness. Schmidt's vivid watercolors are perfectly matched to Nolen's bright writing, which will challenge new readers while delivering a story well told.” (Kathy Broderick, Booklist)

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