Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
From the author of Weetzie Bat comes a collection of tales that challenges conventional social roles. "The roses, camellias and jacarandas of Block's lush prose style scent these works with a heady perfume," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Feb.) r
Children's Literature - Michelle H. Martin
Featuring short stories about characters with names like Tweetie Sweet Pea, Pixie, Pony, and Cubby, Block's latest work, like her hallmark "Weetzie Bat" novels, tells of the zany lives of children and teens who live in contemporary Los Angeles and Hollywood. Drugs, teen sex, underage drinking and school truancy are almost a given; inaccessible parents, the untimely deaths of young people, and child abuse occur frequently. While many of Block's short stories border on magical realism, her masterful depiction of eccentric and troubled young adults who struggle with loneliness, grief and life-changing decisions helps readers to identify with these characters. By far the most compelling story in the collection, "Dragons in Manhattan" relates the coast-to-coast journey of twelve-year-old Tuck Budd, who has been raised by lesbian moms Anastasia and Izzy, to find her biological father. The search leads her both to her estranged grandparents and to the knowledge that all she has ever wished for is right at home. Despite its bizarre "trappings," this story, as well as most of the others in the volume, is all about finding love, acceptance, home, and peace within despite all else. 1998 (orig.
The ALAN Review - Connie S. Zitlow
Block's nine stories in Girl Goddess #9, with the mythical, lyrical prose of her Weetzie Bat novels, read like modern fairy tales. She explores various kinds of love in nontraditional families and between friends and lovers: baby goddess "Tweetie Sweet Pea" and Peach Pie hunt for elf homes with their parents, but they know winter will come; La talks to imaginary "Blue" until she begins to heal after her mother's death; "Pixie and Pony," dressed in pale-pink taffeta minidresses, slam dance with their Mohawked dates at the prom; Winnie finds out her boyfriend Cubby is gay; and after a Devil Dog crashes his motorcycle, Désirée and Dobey want to escape the heat and death in L.A. In the longest tale, Tudd Budd, who lives in Manhattan with her two moms, Anastasia and Izzy, journeys to the Pacific and finds out Izzy was Irving Rose, her father. The stories are told with vivid descriptions and imaginative names (lady ivory, alabaster duchess, Raven White) and include surfers, bikers, rock-star groupies, and dancers. The girl goddesses face the death of a parent, experience hollow sexual relationships, and worry about losing a friend. Amidst their transitions, they all search for life's beauty and meaning.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpThe title of this collection comes from the story in which two girls create their own magazine, Girl Goddess. As if they were on a talk show, Lady Ivory (Emily) and Alabaster Duchess (Anna) breathlessly describe the thrill of their creative/chaotic experiences, including interviewing a rock star. The tale flits among letters, interviews, and first- and third-person narratives as fast paced and turbulent as the characters' lives. In each of these nine selections, mostly female protagonists with unusual names such as Peachy Pie, Tuck, Tweetie, La, Pixie, and Pony experience the highs and lows of adolescence. La longs for acceptance from her peers as she struggles with her mother's suicide. Tuck goes in search of her father and discovers that her mother's live-in female lover is actually her father with a sex change. The lives of many of these youthful characters seem devoid of nurturing adults. The peer-to-peer world in which they live is often crude, cruel, and sad, with harsh slang, casual sex, drugs, and drinking. Deeply disturbing and touching at the same time, this book captures teen characters who live only in the present and often appear not to have or desire any future. Well-written stories for a mature YA audience that radiate empathy, pithiness, and a vibrant irreverence.Carol Schene, Taunton Public Schools, MA
Nine short stories from an author (Baby Be-Bop, 1995, etc.) with a gift for creating warmly human characters with wildly unconventional exteriors. Ranging from "Orpheus," a fragmentary mood piece, to "Dragons in Manhattan," a novel in every aspect but length, the stories feature young women in wide varieties of friendships and family structures: "Tweetie Sweet Pea," not long out of toddlerdom, is already wiser about life and change than her parents naïvely suppose; a "Blue" imaginary companion helps La grieve when her mother commits suicide; Tuck Budd, raised by two women, discovers after a long quest that her father is considerably nearer than she thought. Desiree finds timelessly intense summer romance in "The Canyon"; for 11 of their 17 years, "Pixie and Pony" enjoy a relationship closer than best friends; Emily (a.k.a. lady ivory) and Anna (alabaster duchess) disappointedly report in their magazine "Girl Goddess
Read an Excerpt
Girl Goddess #9 EPB
In the morning, her mother helped her put on the bathing suit with the cartoon bird baby on it."You look just like Tweetie Bird," her mother said."Tweetie," she repeated.She had tufts of white hair, big blue saucer eyes, a little round tummy and skinny arms and legs.Her sister, Peachy Pie, came in."Doesn't she look just like TweetiePeachy Pie solemnly nodded."Go show your dad."Peachy Pie took her sister's hand and they went through the apartment. It was an obstacle course of funny props that their father brought home from the studios-masks, models of cities, a robot, a suit of armor, marionettes, a giant stuffed spider in a web, a pair of angel wings. Outside it was so hot that the roses in the courtyard already smelled as sweet as if it were afternoon and the springer spaniels, Digger and Tugger, didn't leap up to greet the girls; they just beat their stubby tails on the sidewalk along with Ringo. The Beatles were playing on their father's boom box as he stood under the palm trees in front of the Spanish bungalow washing his Jeep."She's Tweetie," Peachy Pie said."She is!" said their father. He wiped his hands on a towel and kissed the tops of their heads."Spray us with the hose!" squealed Peachy Pie, and he did.They giggled and wriggled in the rainbow water. Then Tweetie sat in a bucket and Peachy Pie wrapped a Snow-White-and-the-Seven-Dwarves towel around her. Tweetie liked the way it felt to fit her whole self into the bucket and watch her father washing his car. He wore baggy plaid shorts that hung low on his narrow hips and sunglasses that looked like two tinyold Beatles records."Time for breakfast, kidlets their mother called.Tweetie didn't want to get out of the bucket where she fit so perfectly. Her father had to pick her up, kicking and wiggling, and deliver her into a chair that was too big. She missed her bucket. She might not fit into it as well in a few days. Her mother brought bowls of oatmeal with bananas and honey.
Yuck, thought Tweetie Too hot for oats. If she had been able to stay in the bucket she might have eaten them. She slid out through the back of the chair.
"Where are you going?" her father asked."Come sit back down and eat your breakfast like a big girl," said Peachy Pie as if she were the mother.Tweetie ran across the blue-and-white kitchen floor to the refrigerator. She pulled on the door with both hands. She climbed inside, using the vegetable bins as stairs, and reached up. The bag of frozen peas hit her on the head as she fell backward onto the floor. It didn't hurt much but she cried anyway.
Her mother ladled her up."Now why did you do that?" her mother said, kissing the tufty top of Tweetie's head where her pink scalp showed through her hair."Peas," said TweetieHer mother sat Tweetie on her lap and fed her frozen peas until she stopped crying. Tweetie thought they tasted like candy, while unfrozen peas were mushy and not as sweet. She tried to offer some to her mother, her father and Peachy Pie, but no one wanted any."Tweetie Sweet Pea," her father said. And that
was how she got her name.After breakfast Tweetie Sweet Pea and Peachy Pie played Beauty and the Beast because it was Peachy Pie's favorite game. Tweetie always had to be the Beast. Peachy Pie always got to be Beauty.Tweetie could have complained, but she never did because it seemed to mean a lot to Peachy Pie to be Beauty. Tweetie contemplated the fact that she and Peachy Pie were blonds, while their mother and Beauty had luscious brown curls. She thought that her father and the Beast must especially like brown hair. Her own hair was, as everyone had pointed out today, the color of a baby bird. Her grandmother had called it floozy blond, which wasn't, she gathered, a particularly good thing."You be the Beast," Peachy Pie said.Tweetie thought, Oh surprise surprise.She held the Beast doll and made him hop around. He had a hairy head with horns and tusks, a padded back, soft paws and a bushy tail. Tweetie thought he was cute like that. She wished that Peachy Pie would let him keep his Beast outfit on.Peachy Pie took off Beauty's plain blue dress. It was hard to get it off over her pointy plastic breasts, hard plastic hands and steep plastic whereare-my-pumps feet.Peachy and Tweetie examined naked Beauty. She sure looked different naked than they did."I'll put on her married dress," Peachy Pie announced.She opened the ballerina music box and took out the gold lame ball gown, closing the box before the music started to play. Tweetie always hated the fakey-sweet smell of that dress. Peachy put it on Beauty."Okay. Now we dance," Peachy instructed.She opened the music box again. This time a little twinkling tinkling song flew out of it like a fairy. The ballerina spun on one pink toe in front of her mirror. Tweetie Sweet Pea held the Beast up to Beauty and they danced. Everything got very still except for the tune playing over and over. A light breeze came in through the window,warm and
"Now ask me to marry you," Peachy Pie told Tweetie as she danced Beauty. Peachy Pie's teeth showed when she was bossy. They reminded Tweetie of Dig's and Tug's tiny front teeth that she could see when she pulled their dog lips back.
"Will marry me?" asked Tweetie Sweet Pea.
"No. Say it like this," and Peachy Pie growled the words. "Will marry me?" squeaked Tweetie again.Peachy Pie rolled her eyes. "No. Not unless you take off your clothes.""No," said TweetiePeachy Pie got mad. She took the Beast away from Tweetie and undressed him. Under his Beastly costume Tweetie thought he was dumb-and-naked The only good thing about him was his hair. It was nice and long like their father's. When their father had seen it he had said, "I don't remember my sister's Ken doll ever having such long locks. It must be a grange Ken.""He's not Ken. He's the Beast," Peachy Pie told him.
"Oh, that explains it," he laughed.Sometimes their father wore his hair in a ponytail. Sometimes he let it out and Tweetie played with it. It was blond like hers, and like Beast's. Sometimes he grew a goatee which made him look a lot like Beast, but Tweetie wouldn't have told him that. It might have hurt his feelings.Their mother came in wearing a blue flowered sundress and her big, clunky, lace-up boots. She looked like Beauty except for the shoes."What's going on?" she said, squatting down next to them."The prince is marrying me," Peachy said."Now you girls shouldn't expect a handsome prince to come along and make it all better. I grew up on those fairy tales and it didn't do me any good"
Tweetie thought, Just let Peachy Pie enjoy herhandsome prince. It makes her happy. Besides, you did find a prince.When her father held her it made everything all better, just for then, but all better for then was pretty good. No one had to tell her and Peachy Pie that not all fairy tales come true. They knew more than they let on. Girl Goddess #9 EPB
Nine Stories. Copyright ? by Francesca Block. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.