Two young girls from very different backgrounds discover what they hold in common in this funny Australian classic.
Publishers WeeklyOne of two titles (along with Barbara Wilson's A Clear Spring 1-55861-277-7) launching the Girls First! mystery/adventure series, Applegate's (Rain Dance) thin novel takes place in the author's native Australia. While her father attends a conference in Canada, 12-year-old Amy leaves her Melbourne home to stay with her eccentric aunt on the Australian outback, where her aunt works in a health clinic. Initially feeling very much an outsider among the residents, Amy eventually becomes friends with Lana, an Aborigine who, like Amy, has fairly recently lost her mother. The author stiffly incorporates bits of the country's history and Aboriginal lore and tradition into a plot in which the girls take on criminals stealing Aboriginal sacred objects. Many passages are either forced ("Amy felt hurt and lonely. She was different from all these other children and felt left out of all the fun and excitement") or awkward ("It was hard for the two girls to remain glum when they were surrounded by so many smiling children who laughed at each other, sucking up the spaghetti like long worms").Unfortunately, Applegate's attempts at suspense and her dialogue also fall flat, making this a slow and unconvincing read. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library JournalGr 5-7 A rather formulaic and predictable book in which two main characters with ostensibly nothing in common discover they are more alike than different. Amy, a 12-year-old from Melbourne, meets Lana, an Aboriginal peer, while visiting her Aunt Caroline in the Australian outback. At first, the girls clash, but as Amy gradually learns more about the Aboriginal culture and history, she gains a deeper understanding of Lana's way of life. At the novel's climax, the youngsters are forced to pool their resources to rescue Caroline when she is injured and protect a sacred site. This book could fill requests for stories set in other countries, but it lacks originality and spark and the characters are not interesting. -Ronni Krasnow, New York Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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