Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

April 10, 2007


By Cynthia Lord
Rating: 4 1/4 stars
Newbery Honor 2007
Reviewed by Noelle

Summer has begun and Catherine is excited that the new neighbors moving in next door include a girl who is just her age named Kristi. She hopes Kristi will like swimming in the pond and maybe will want to signal in Morse code with flashlights at night from their bedroom windows. But she is petrified that David, her younger brother with autism, will ruin everything with his unusual behavior. Catherine keeps a list of rules for David; like "Late doesn't mean not coming" and "No toys in the fish tank." But as she tentatively begins making friends with Kristi, she also starts to develop a surprising new friendship with a boy she meets at David's therapy office. Jason is in a wheelchair and can't speak, but he uses cards to communicate. Catherine finds Jason a safe friend to talk to, especially when she feels guilty about her negative feelings surrounding David. But when she doesn't tell Kristi the truth about Jason, Catherine finds herself in trouble when Kristi insists she invite Jason to the community center dance. Which friend is more important to keep? This fast-moving story will draw readers in with its honest look at living in a family with a sibling that is challenged by autism. Catherine must face her feelings and make some hard choices about what is really important to her. Good stuff!

April 04, 2007

Diary of a Would-Be Princess

By Jessica Green
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

In this Australian import, Jillian is a 5th grader writing in her journal for school at the beginning of the school year. Want she wants to be most of all is part of the "Princess" clique of girls in her classroom, but all attempts to befriend those girls falls flat. Instead, class nerd, Nigel, begins to hang around to her despair. But as the year progresses, Jillian begins to see the good side of Nigel and also some of the other outcasts in her class, like Sam (who can barely read), Vincent (a "bad boy") and Raymond (who tends to get violent). Even the new boy, Rodney, and Amanda, who is great at sports, become members of Jillian's ragtag group. By year's end, Jillian is surprised at the change in direction both she and her new friends have taken, and realizes there is more to her than any "Princess" could hope for. A light feel-good read about becoming happy with who you are. Fun!