by Judith Clarke

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Even as a baby, Sophia had been a nuisance,'' and now she has grown into a loud, obnoxious and absolutely unflappable girl, the terror of her neighborhood. Sam, in contrast, is ``so shy that when he saw someone he knew . . . he'd duck behind a tree or fence or a telephone pole so they wouldn't see him.'' Not surprisingly, neither of these singular characters has a thriving social life. Through their mutual acquaintance with Theodore Snackle, who hates his name, and whose nose, as Sophia points out thoughtlessly, ``would look good on a witch,'' Sam and Sophia both learn something about the nature of friendship and find that they are destined to be pals. Clarke ( The Heroic Life of Al Capsella ) goes easy on his novel's message, focusing instead on the extremes of behavior that lead Sophia and Sam into their relationship. Calling to mind both Pippi Longstocking and the novels of Beverly Cleary, this humorous import from Down Under is a welcome addition to the ranks of comical middle-grade stories. Ages 9-12. (Dec.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-- Sophia Throstle, a bored, thoroughly disagreeable but self-satisfied nine-year-old girl, possesses a shock of spiky orange hair, freckles, and a scratchy, irritating voice. She terrorizes her parents, schoolmates, and the neighborhood with her rude, unthinking actions and comments. Sophia makes friends with neighbor Theodore Snackle, a reclusive writer, the only remaining person who will open the door to her. He also befriends Sam Froggett, a shy, artistic boy who is fascinated with Sophia. Tentative moves towards friendship on both children's parts result in misunderstandings. Theodore becomes the agent of their eventual getting together by writing stories; two are included here. A subplot concerning his romantic interest in the corner shopkeeper adds interest. This novel of character moves along quite briskly; however, the funny names, the unsympathetic nature of Sophia's behavior, and the lack of involvement by parents in their children's lives gives the story an air of humor and unreality that, in the end, undermines the triumph of Sophia and Tom's growing relationship. An eye-catching cover guarantees to attract browsers' interest. A pleasant, if ultimately unmemorable, novel about a common theme of reaching out and discovering the true nature of another person. --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT
Hazel Rochman
Three awkward loners become friends in a funny novel about trying to find a place in a dull and difficult world. There's Sophia, cross and wild, bored with the nice mimsy-whimsies everywhere. She talks nonstop in her loud, rackety voice and offends everybody; yet she just knows she's really beautiful and clever. Sam's the opposite, so shy he won't look in the mirror, convinced he's short and strange, wishing he was ordinary. Sophia fascinates him; he longs to walk right up to her in the playground and ask, "Why doesn't it worry you that you're so funny-looking?" Sophia has liked Sam ever since she caught a glimpse of his strange, wonderful drawings, but she doesn't know how to talk to people without being rude. The man who gets them together is Theodore, a reclusive writer who makes up weird, fantastic fables--one about a teacher so boring he puts the class to sleep; one about a raucous, overprotected cat who thinks she's a Sensitive Soul. As in Clarke's YA novels, such as "The Heroic Life of Al Capsella" , the fun is in the characters here, especially, larger-than-life Sophia. Kids will recognize themselves and their classmates in the fumbling for friendship and in the yearning to be both ordinary and strange.

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Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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