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Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats

Overview

When Bambi Babcock's TV-producer father bankrupt, the Babcocks have to get out of Los Angeles ... fast. Dad heads for his hometown of Hickory Fork, which he remembers as a wholesome place for kids to grow up.

But Bambi, her sister Buffie, and their little brother Brick come up against the Mall Rats, a down-home teenage gang run by scary Tanya and beef Jeeter. When the Mall Rats walk into school dives for cover. They've already trashed the mall....

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Overview

When Bambi Babcock's TV-producer father bankrupt, the Babcocks have to get out of Los Angeles ... fast. Dad heads for his hometown of Hickory Fork, which he remembers as a wholesome place for kids to grow up.

But Bambi, her sister Buffie, and their little brother Brick come up against the Mall Rats, a down-home teenage gang run by scary Tanya and beef Jeeter. When the Mall Rats walk into school dives for cover. They've already trashed the mall.

Bambi knows that if her show-biz family is going to get stuck here, they must turn the school around and save the town.

The Mall Rats will never know what hit them.

Bambi, Buffie, and Brick, three totally cool siblings from Los Angeles, move with their parents to Hickory Fork, a small town terrorized by a high school gang.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Neither Southern California brats nor ornery hicks escape the malice of this rather mean-hearted slapstick novel. When Buffie Babcock's TV producer father goes broke, he and his family say ``good-bye to all we knew and the total California experience'' and hightail it to Hickory Fork, where Mr. Babcock grew up. Smack-dab in an unenlightened (and unnamed) part of Middle America, this formerly bucolic hamlet is now in the thrall of a thuggish group of high school students. Outraged, Buffie's older sister Bambi--a quintessential Valley Girl with eternally perfect hair--takes charge. In a convoluted plot (involving a ghost story, a fixed football game and a brand-new TV pilot directed by Buffie's father) justice is restored, the local economy receives a much-needed boost and Mr. Babcock makes enough money to buy a Range Rover and return his kids to their rightful home. Even at its most snide (``After Pinetree Trace, which they hated the most, the football team would be playing Toad Suck, Oil Trough, Possum Trot, Natural Steps, Viny Grove, and Booger Holler''), the narrative manages to be snappy, moving at a rackety gallop. But it's slick and compassionless, comparing poorly with such Peck titles as Unfinished Portrait of Jessica . Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
The ALAN Review - John H. Bushman
To the Babcock siblings-Buffie, Bambi, and Brick-moving from Bel-Air to Hickory Fork is like going from night to day. The three, along with their parents, leave California "in a hurry" and end up in the middle of nowhere. They soon realize all is not right in Hickory Fork. The mall has been closed; the school is run by the Mall Rats, a gang, headed by Tanya and beefy Jeeter; and the town lives in fear of these down-home teenage gangs. Bambi decides that if they are going to have to stay here, things will have to change. She, along with her show-biz family, sets out to take the school back and make the town livable again. Peck's delightful language-it's a very funny book-and his vivid description make for a very enjoyable read. More sophisticated readers may enjoy the more subtle commentaries on gangs, schools, and various types of family values.
Ilene Cooper
Life in L.A.'s fast lane comes to a screeching halt when Bambi and Buffie Babcock's father, a television producer, goes bankrupt. With nowhere to go, the Babcocks--Mom, Dad, daughters, and young brother Brick--head to Hickory Fork, where Dad grew up sniffing fresh air and fishing at the pond. Eighth-grader Bambi and sixth-grader Buffie (from whose point of view the story is told) are familiar with shopping at Chanel and relaxing in their jacuzzis, but Hickory Fork turns out to be a worse nightmare than anything the girls could have dreamed. A gang of big, beefy boys and big-haired girls have taken over the town and trashed the mall, making it their own private clubhouse. Bambi decides that it is up to her (and the reluctant Buffie) to set things straight. What starts out as an extravagant tale goes over the top very quickly. Even outrageous humor needs a story to cling to, but overthrowing the mall rats is not a sturdy enough story to support the frenzied goings-on: grandmothers with shotguns, kill-crazy cheerleaders, and a prep-school interloper who has made the mistake of dressing up as the school mascot, a hedgehog. By the time the Babcocks get the idea to turn their new life into a television pilot (by the last chapter, they are back in L.A.), readers may be too exhausted to care. Peck has some wonderfully funny lines, and his exaggeration of city and country lifestyles is sharp, but this could use a little less satire and a little more heart.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440219255
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/1/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 181
  • Age range: 12 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Peck
Born in Decatur, IIlinois, Richard Peck has written over 18 novels for young readers. He is the winner of the 1990 Margaret A. Edwards Award, a prestigious award sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the American Library Association in cooperation with School Library Journal; the 1990 National Council of Teachers of English/ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to young adult literature; and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award.

Peck says, "I want to write novels that ask honest questions about serious issues. A novel is never an answer; it's always a question." In The Last Safe Place on Earth, Peck deals with the serious issue of censorship, and young readers will have many questions long after the close the book.

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