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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: If you ask Addy, sixth grade would be a whole lot easier if she wasn't cursed. No matter how many food offerings she left smoldering in her room, there was always something to go wrong. At school it was Marcia Pittel, her self-declared arch enemy. Then there was Jackie; the person who encouraged her writing and whose lifelong friendship Addy destroyed in a single email. And don't forget home! Her Mom's new boyfriend Jonathan had (in Addy's estimation) overstayed his "temporary" residency in the guest room. This YA novel follows the life of a sixth grade girl as she learns that life is about choices, not curses.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader, reluctant reader
Recommended Age: read together: 10 to 12; read yourself: 12 and up
Interest Level: 10 and up
Age of Child: Read by students at the Woodside High Magnet School for Arts and Communication. (Newport News, VA)
Young Reader Reaction: Student 1: This book is cool because of how it is written. I liked how the book used comics to tell the story. In fact, I picked it because of the comic book pictures. I would buy this book and read it again. I would also buy it for my friends. I like Manga and this was like Manga. Student 2: It is easy to imagine what happens in the story. It's like Harriet the Spy. It is worth reading.
Adult Reader Reaction: Very clever! The story is engaging, with great characters. The author has done an incredible job allowing Addy to lead the story, but leaving plenty of room for the other characters to be equally rich and offer their views of the events. That opens it up for kids to see themselves. I LOVE the autobiograstrip. I sure hope she trademarked that!
Pros: Teens (including reluctant readers) will devour this fast-paced book and quickly find themselves a spot in Addy's world. The smattering of comic-like illustrations will make this attractive for reluctant readers, too.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a great read-together story, as well as a read-alone book. The story offers humor and images that pre-teens are likely to return to a time or two.
Educational Themes: Teens will see this largely as recreational reading. Still, there is plenty to talk about, and teachers/parents/counselors, can craft some wonderful discussions about writing styles and genres; reading directions/following the rules (a la the Chanticleer contest); the advantages and perils of technology to express emotions; friendship; family dynamics, particularly as it relates to grief/loss of a parent; and life.
Notes: The Reading Tub profiled an advance reader copy of this book.
Literary Categories: Fiction - Young Adult, YA, friendship, reluctant reader
Date(s) Reviewed: February 2008, June 2008
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