Smoke Screen


Mitzi has gotten herself into a big mess. Her mom is trying hard to quit smoking, and it's making her really moody. Mitzi lies about her mother's strange behavior to impress a boy-and has no one to blame but herself for what happens next! 152 pages

As Mitzi's mother tries unsuccessfully to quit smoking, Mitzi pretends her mother has a terrible disease, "Stipitis," in order to win sympathy and affection from a boy she has a crush on....

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Mitzi has gotten herself into a big mess. Her mom is trying hard to quit smoking, and it's making her really moody. Mitzi lies about her mother's strange behavior to impress a boy-and has no one to blame but herself for what happens next! 152 pages

As Mitzi's mother tries unsuccessfully to quit smoking, Mitzi pretends her mother has a terrible disease, "Stipitis," in order to win sympathy and affection from a boy she has a crush on.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Witty and deftly paced, Koss's (The Girls) sprightly novel revitalizes a familiar plot. Sixth-grader Mitzi, the narrator, has been desperately trying to get her classmate Mike to notice her. When she gets an eyelash in her eye and starts to tear up, she is positively thrilled that he asks if she's okay. The eyelash seems too banal to mention, so almost before she knows it, Mitzi is telling Mike that her mom is sick (well, her mother is in a terrible mood from trying to quit smoking). "What should I have said?" she asks the reader. "I was crying over war? World hunger?" The lie takes on a life of its own, and soon Mitzi's whole class is making sympathy cards to help her face her mother's recovery from a critical operation ("Our hearts are with you," writes the teacher on the envelope). The author cleverly balances the lighthearted with the thoughtful, and her characterizations are both on target and very funny. Mitzi's quick repartee with her friends and parents shows particular understanding of middle-graders and their concerns, and the adults, too, are lifelike. Kids will get a strong message about the addictiveness of cigarettes, as well as about the pitfalls of straying too far from the truth, but the lessons never get in the way of the laughter. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
Mitzi has a big-time crush on a boy in her class who hasn't been paying any attention to her, and she accidentally finds herself telling him a huge lie about her mother being ill to attract his attention. Mitzi's problems continue to erupt as her best friend suddenly ignores her to hang out with the popular crowd. Meanwhile, her mother is driving her crazy with her multiple attempts to quit smoking. When her mother finds out about Mitzi's lie, she makes a bet with Mitzi that if she is able to quit smoking by the end of the school year then Mitzi must confess in front of her class about the humongous lie she has told. Mitzi's life is turned upside down with fear, and she learns an important lesson about telling the truth. This is part of the "American Girl's Fiction" series. 2000, Pleasant Company,
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Ordinarily Mitzi's imagination is an asset. If tasks are boring, she and her best friend, Birdy, pretend they're artists in ancient Greece, members of a Sultan's harem, or escaped convicts dodging searchlights. But when Mike Humphrey refuses to notice her, Mitzi's creative genius brings on "the year of the lie"--a string of fibs that lead to whoppers, and to trouble. Birdy provides no support--she's too busy making a new friend. And Mitzi's usually helpful mom has become a cigarette-deprived monster, struggling irritably and obsessively through "the grumpy quit," "the cleanliness quit," and "the exercise quit." Mitzi's unsuccessful attempts to win a boyfriend do have one thing in common with her mom's failed attempts to quit smoking--they both come from liking something even though it hurts. Mitzi is a charmingly flawed and winning character in a fast-paced book filled with realistic dialogue and humor. Anyone who's ever lied her way into deeper and deeper trouble, had to share a friend, or endured the mood swings of a parent quitting smoking, will find plenty to relate to and laugh about. 2000, Pleasant Company, Ages 10 up, $12.95 and $5.95. Reviewer: Betty Hicks—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-The New Year is starting out great for Mitzi Burk. Her mom has decided to quit smoking, she has the best friend a girl could want, and she's seated next to Mike Humphrey, her first crush. Then, in the space of one short month, things change dramatically. Mitzi's mother is totally wrapped up in her unsuccessful attempts to stop smoking (the cleanliness quit, the vigorous-exercise quit, and the group quit) and her best friend has found a new, cooler friend, leaving Mitzi behind. Worst of all, however, is the growing lie she has told Mike in order to make an impression on him-that her mother has the horrible disease "Stripitis." Koss does an excellent job of expressing how adolescent minds work. The characters and plot are well developed and will be familiar to many readers. Short chapters and sparkling dialogue will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Fans of Koss's The Ashwater Experiment (Dial, 1999) will love this comical page-turner.-Shilo Halfen, Chicago Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780613317191
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Koss

AMY GOLDMAN KOSS is the author of several acclaimed teen novels, including The Girls, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Poison Ivy (available from Square Fish). She lives in Glendale, CA, with her family, and she’s on the web at

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