Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

April 27, 2009


By Sara Pennypacker
Rating: 4 1/4 stars

In this funny story, 8 year old Clementine has not had a very good week. No one appreciates how good she is at paying attention (although not to what they think she should be paying attention to!). She gets sent to the principal's office for cutting off her best friend Margaret's hair--but it was just to help fix Margaret's own cutting job! And why is everyone angry at her for cutting her own hair off in sympathy? But she does help her father figure out how to win the Great Pigeon War. But when Clementine hears that she isn't the "easy kid" in the family, with the week she's been having, can her parents be planning to trade her in? Readers will find this story extremely entertaining and Clementine is a very real life kid that anyone who has read a Ramona or Junie B. story will find familiar and likeable. Fans will want to read the sequels, The Talented Clementine and Clementine's Letter.

April 18, 2009

Word Nerd

By Susin Nielsen
Rating: 4 stars

In this amusing novel, Ambrose is well and truly a 12 year old misfit. With a life-threatening peanut allergy, bad taste in clothes, an overprotective and overbearing mother, and no money, Ambrose is the whipping boy for every school bully in every school he's ever attended. And he's attended several since his mother keeps them moving around in search of an elusive permanent university teaching position. Now they've landed in a basement apartment in Vancouver below a friendly older Greek couple. Ambrose's mother pulls him out of school after the local bullies nearly kill him by putting a peanut in his sandwich and it is while Ambrose is bored at home that he slowly begins to befriend Cosmo, his upstairs neighbors' son, recently released from jail for breaking and entering. Older Cosmo has no interest in Ambrose, but somehow Ambrose manages to convince Cosmo to bring him to a Scrabble club and slowly a partnership and then a friendship is born between the pair. Cosmo helps teach Ambrose some self-defense and Ambrose helps keep Cosmo on the straight and narrow...until Ambrose's mom finds out. Will Ambrose be forced to leave the first place he's ever been happy? Ambrose is a wry 12 year old, as blind to the world at times as he is insightful, and it is impossible not to like and laugh along with him. While he is definitely interested and embarrassed by many a thing a nearly teenage boy would be (read: girls and his own body), Ambrose is also very young in other ways. A very enjoyable story about becoming more comfortable in your own skin, and it all starts with Scrabble. Who knew?

April 09, 2009

11 Birthdays

By Wendy Mass
Rating: 3 3/4 stars

A story about friendship with a magical twist. Amanda and Leo have been celebrating their birthdays together since the day they were born and are the best of friends. But on their 10th birthday, Amanda overhears Leo slagging her off to his guy friends and she is crushed. In despair she leaves the party and refuses to speak to him for an entire year. Now, it is her 11th birthday and for the first time ever, she is celebrating it separately, and true to her feelings, it is a miserable day. Imagine her surprise when the next morning is her 11th birthday again! At first she thinks it is a joke, but then Amanda realizes she is actually reliving the day. And it happens the next day, too, and the one after that. Then suddenly, Amanda discovers that Leo is having the same experience. The two meet and realize they need to make up and try and figure what is happening to them, but each explanation they come up with is crazier than the last. But as each day dawns another 11th birthday, the friends realize that reliving a day can be fun and terrible and fantastic all at once. Then they discover their ancestors used to feud with one another. Can ancient history be affecting their present day? And what about that mysterious old lady who is always lurking? At the core, it is a story about friends and about doing the right thing, and readers will be drawn into the unusual twist of repeating the same day in time. Entertaining, although not particularly realistic!