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Best Girl

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Book shows minor use. Cover and Binding have minimal wear, and the pages have only minimal creases. Free State Books. Never settle for less.

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Puffin, 03/01/1995, Paperback, Acceptable condition. Former Library book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No one can understand better than Nealy the devastation Mrs. Dees feels when her home is gutted by fire, for underneath the house was Nealy's special hiding place, where she escaped her mother's wrath and stowed her favorite treasures. The child's grief is intensified by other unrelated yet equally tragic incidents, including her older sister's departure from home and the destruction of a favorite tree. Clearly, Nealy's pain never completely subsides, but she is able to form new bonds of friendship with those who share her sorrow. The author of Voyages and Return to Bitter Creek weaves another intricate web of emotions in this intimate story of loss and survival. The book's meandering pace and sketchy characterizations (Nealy's mother is particularly enigmatic) may put off some readers; others will appreciate the subtlety and deep compassion of Smith's narrative. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- ``Nealy Compton was not under Mrs. Dees's house the night it burned.'' This is the beginning to a poignant tale that certainly fulfills its promise, although in a quieter fashion than one might expect from its dramatic opening. No one knows of the girl's refuge in the crawl space under the house, of the books, the drawing pad and pencils she keeps there. And the stolen music box. The night of the fire, Nealy is quick to alert the firefighters of her neighbor's absence, but it's a long night and day before she finds her treasures, soot-covered but intact. Still the tragedy touches her in other ways, most painfuly in Mrs. Dees's sudden, inexplicable animosity. When a friend of the woman's recognizes Nealy's hurt and takes the time to know her, he sets in motion a healing force that touches--and ultimately changes--Mrs. Dees and Nealy's bitter, troubled mother as well. Readers' hearts will go out to this child, so bright and interesting and loving, and so inexcusably unloved. Smith explores her character through internal musings and external relationships. For the most part, secondary characters are developed only insofar as they touch and illuminate the child's life. Through Nealy's attempts to reconcile her sister and mother, through her longing for the affections of her dead grandmother, through her imaginary nature videos of mother animals reaching out and gathering in their young, and, above all, through her pitiful attempts to remain in her mother's good graces, Smith reveals a child as willing to love as she is painfully eager to be loved. That Mrs. Dees warms to her in the end is heartwarming and right. That her abusive mother softens, as well, is a bit harder to credit. But, despite these telltale traces of sentimentality, the human dynamics are on-target. Readers will find Nealy's story hopeful and involving, her character one with whom they can readily identify--and grow. --Marcia Hupp, Mamaroneck Pub. Lib. , NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140346862
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.07 (w) x 7.74 (h) x 0.49 (d)

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