Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ransom
Dear George Clooney Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen
Tundra Books | August 10, 2010
This past Tuesday, I reviewed a couple of books about 10-year-old boys and here are a pair about 12-year-old girls.
Rebel McKenzie is all set to spend her summer at the Summer Ice Age Kids' Dig and Safari in Saltsville, VA when her mother tells her they don't have the money after all. So instead, she gets sent to live with her much older sister and her 7-year-old nephew Rudy and their enormous cat, Doublewide, in their trailer for the summer. She is meant to watch Rudy while her sister attends beauty school, but she ends up cooking, cleaning, helping her sister study. She explains in the text, "Always the strong one, she [Rebel's sister] was unraveling like the scarf I'd knitted the five minutes I'd been a girl scout. Instead of substituting one mother for another this summer, it seemed I'd become the mother."
Fed up, Rebel enters the Miss Frog Level Volunteer Fire Department beauty pageant, sponsored by Better-Off-Dead Pest Control and Bridal Consignment. Rebel is as tomboyish as they come, so she needs a good bit of help to prepare for the festivities. The adventures she and Rudy have, along with new friend Lacey Jane and enemy Bambi Lovering are silly, fun, and believable. The book has a clear southern twang, which is a delight (and might delight your southern children). Interspersed throughout are Rudy's cartoon drawings, excerpts from Rebel's diary, and Bambi's Expert Beauty Tips newsletters, all of which enhance the text of the story. Save for the horrible cover (with a beheaded young woman sucking on the straw of a blue slushie), this one's a win as a summer read.
Violet has a sister, Rosie, a mother in Vancouver and a father, his new wife Jennica, and twin half-sisters in Los Angeles. Her father cheated on her mother with Jennica and then left and now Violet's mom is struggling to make ends meet and is dating up a storm looking for a new husband. Violet does everything she can to make everyone else as miserable as she is. She heckles her mother's dates, refuses to speak to her father on the phone, and wait for it.....feeds cat poop to her baby sisters. Her best friend, Phoebe is the only voice of reason in her life, and Rosie is the only person Violet cares for without question.
When Violet and Phoebe decide George Clooney would be the perfect man for Violet's mom to marry, they write him a letter and then hatch a plan to bump into him in LA to ask him first hand. Meanwhile, Violet is dealing with the girl-bullies at school and the attraction she feels to Jean-Paul even though she's sworn off boys herself. As her mother gets ready to become serious with her new hilariously named boyfriend, Dudley Weiner, the pressure heats up for Violet.
Fantastic voice, cute story, and the trials of being in a split then blended family are all captured wonderfully here. Another win.