Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyIn her first novel, Dugan ( Loop the Loop ) traces the woes of Bobbie Callahan as she endures the sixth grade at her parochial school. Lonely for her best friend, who has recently moved away, and fed up with Sister Alice, her no-nonsense teacher, Bobbie is more interested in reenacting scenes from the French Revolution and the Old Testament than in arriving to school on time. Her rebellious spirit (inherited, no doubt, from her pool-shark, convertible-driving grandmother) leads to trouble, but Bobbie is far less daunted by repeated reprimands than by her observation that Grandma Callahan is showing signs of age. A mixture of tender and tickling scenes produce vivid portraits: the heroine and her grandmother prove equally irresistible, and although Sister Alice is somewhat stereotyped, her straitlaced demeanor is an effective foil for Bobbie's exuberance. Readers fond of Ramona Quimby and Anastasia Krupnik will receive the remarkably resilient Bobbie Callahan with enthusiasm. Ages 10-up. (May)
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 4-6-Bobbie Callahan, 12, is facing sixth grade at her Minneapolis Catholic school with dread and a sense of drama common to aspiring actresses. Her best friend, Charlotte, has moved away; Sister Alice is reputed to be the toughest teacher in the school; and God ignores her prayers to be shorter. But, more seriously, she must face the increasing infirmity of her beloved, convertible-driving, pool-playing grandmother. Acknowledging her failing health, Gramma prepares the girl for what is to come, and her granddaughter realizes that ``Everything has changed, and it's not going back to the way it was.'' Bobbie's first-person narrative, interspersed with her letters to Charlotte, is funny and poignant. Readers will empathize with her impending loss of Gramma, whose influence has molded her character, and of Sister Alice, whom she has come to appreciate and who must leave St. Francis to care for her parents. Reminiscent of Eileen Strauch's Hey You, Sister Rose (Tambourine, 1993) but more contemporary and immediate, this first novel is set apart by its fine writing; interesting, authentic characters and setting; and an irrepressible heroine experiencing the joys and pains of growing up.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Hazel RochmanIn a wry, personal voice, Bobbie bemoans her life. How can she get through sixth grade when her best friend has moved away to another city? How can she cope with bossy Sister Alice, her strict teacher in her Catholic school? Bobbie glories in being melodramatic ("It's a black year for me"), and she loves to cast herself in heroic roles, on stage and in daily life. She's the one who tries to save the princess: "Girl or boy, I always take the best part," she says. Yet, her grief is quiet when she must accept that her beloved Gramma is dying. Dugan sets her spirited, well-meaning, sometimes irritating protagonist in common situations, from classroom to family dinner to hospital visit. No one is a saintly role model, but a variety of strong women, including her teacher and her Gramma, help Bobbie on her way. "I feel as if I want to go home. And I'm already home," Bobbie says. Kids will recognize that kind of change.
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