The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee

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Overview

Candice Phee isn't a typical twelve-year-old girl. She has more than her fair share of quirks, but she also has the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to make sure everyone around her is happy. That includes you. Because you'll laugh out loud reading this charming, lovable novel. Candice's task is no easy feat when she's dealing with a pet fish with an identity crisis, a friend who believes he came from another dimension, an age-old family feud, and a sick mom. But she is on a mission! Her ...

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The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee

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Overview

Candice Phee isn't a typical twelve-year-old girl. She has more than her fair share of quirks, but she also has the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to make sure everyone around her is happy. That includes you. Because you'll laugh out loud reading this charming, lovable novel. Candice's task is no easy feat when she's dealing with a pet fish with an identity crisis, a friend who believes he came from another dimension, an age-old family feud, and a sick mom. But she is on a mission! Her methods might be unique, but Candice will do whatever it takes to restore order to her world and make sure everyone is absolutely, categorically happy again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
07/07/2014
In a moving story first published in Australia, Jonsberg (Dreamrider) handles painful topics with honesty and humor. When 12-year-old Candice gets a school assignment to write an alphabetically organized essay about something that happened in her past, she turns it into a book covering her entire life. Candice’s literal-mindedness and social awkwardness are intrinsic to her personality. “I can’t go out in the sun unless I use cream with a sun protection factor of one zillion. Please understand that I am deliberately exaggerating for rhetorical effect,” Candice explains in one of several unanswered letters to an American pen pal. When new student Douglas tells her he’s from another dimension, Candice can almost understand his quest to return “home” because she, too, has a quest: to make her family happy again. Candice’s mother suffers from depression, her father had a falling out with Candice’s uncle, and all of them are still reeling from the death of Candice’s baby sister. Jonsberg has created a memorable heroine in Candice, whose determined attempts to heal her family and understand her place in the world will stick with readers. Ages 10–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"You'll like this book AND love it."—Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse #8 Production, a School Library Journal blog

"A heartfelt and humorous novel sure to resonate with any kid that feels different-and as Candice's story reveals, that's almost everyone."-Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Candice Phee is a memorable character and one that many readers will likely want to befriend."—Kidsreads

"Candice is a strong central character, full of personality."-School Library Journal

"Jonsberg has created a memorable heroine in Candice, whose determined attempts to heal her family and understand her place in the world will stick with readers."—Publishers Weekly

"Readers would have to have stone-cold hearts to not root for Candice to succeed."—Booklist

VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Jewel Davis
Reader of the dictionary and Charles Dickens, Candice Phee is a twelve-year-old proclaimed “fixer.” Known by her classmates as Essen, the phonetic spelling for SN (special needs), Candice interprets most things in life literally and is the epitome of social awkwardness. Despite her challenges, Candice sets out to make the people in her life happy with help from her equally strange friend, Douglas Benson, from Another Dimension who truly believes he is living in an alternate universe with facsimile parents. Candice’s misadventures include solving the feud between her father and Rich Uncle Brian; coaxing her mother out of depression; bringing her not-quite-whole family back together; fixing her teacher’s lazy eye—with a pirate eye patch, of course—and becoming friends with the meanest girl in school. While Candice’s fixes do not go quite as planned, she perseveres and finds that, with a great deal of honesty, people can find happiness. Jonsberg successfully addresses difficult issues including depression, cancer, SIDS, and dysfunctional families in a way that makes readers’ hearts squeeze as they also laugh out loud. Jonesberg writes Candice authentically; first as a person, and then as a person with an undefined disability, which gives the novel broad appeal. Readers with and without disabilities will find Candice to be a person they can look up to because she never gives in to adversity. In a classroom, this book could support students who feel out of place; in a school or public library, it would circulate widely. Reviewer: Jewel Davis; Ages 11 to 15.
School Library Journal
08/01/2014
Gr 4–6—Candice Phee's teacher assigned a 26 paragraph (each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet) long essay on something that has happened in the past. But quirky and literal-minded Candice is unable to express her life in such a concise fashion. Instead, she produces a chapter for each, outlining the unexpected death of her younger sister, an ongoing family feud, a neighbor who claims to be from another dimension, and her pet fish. As she writes, she strives to bring her cherished sense of order to the lives of her loved ones by fixing their problems through one grand gesture at a time. Candice is a strong central character, full of personality and a desire to bring happiness to those around her at any cost. The interwoven plots create a rich story, covering a wide expanse that includes loss of a loved one, a caretaker's depression, (possible) brain injuries, and unexpected friendships. The humor laced throughout can be uneven at times, moving from a serious moment to absurd imagery so quickly that readers may need to take pause. Candice takes similar hairpin turns from being incredibly literal, fact-focused and cognizant of social cues, to making large lapses in judgment. The issue of her seemingly ignored pen pal letters, interspersed throughout the alphabetical chapters, also ties up a bit too neatly at the end. This is a strong readalike for Counting by 7s (Dial, 2013) and Out of My Mind(S. & S., 2010).—Nicole Signoretta Sutton, Kingston Elementary School, Cherry Hill, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-16
Twenty-six chapters, one for each letter of the alphabet, chronicle Candice's efforts to fix her family, her friend—and even her fish. Candice Phee's family is a mess. Her baby sister is dead, her mom has had a double mastectomy and is depressed, and her father has quarreled with Rich Uncle Brian. Others in the 12-year-old's life also need help, from her teacher, who has a lazy eye, to her only friend, Douglas Benson from Another Dimension, who is convinced that his parents are facsimiles. Even her pet, Earth-Pig Fish, is religiously confused. Candice, who likes everyone although she knows no one likes her, is somewhere on the autism spectrum (her pencils and pens cannot touch) and is literal to a fault, painfully honest and on a mission to make everyone happy. Award-winning Australian author Jonsburg captures quirky, irrepressible Candice's voice in this first-person narrative that is as touching as it is funny. The humor stems from both Candice's rigid literalness and her well-intentioned but often bungled efforts to fix things. Once readers are past the book's uninviting title, they'll find it impossible not to root for Candice in her valiant and endearing quest to mitigate the sadness of those around her. (Fiction 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452133515
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/9/2014
  • Pages: 242
  • Sales rank: 443,737
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Barry Jonsberg is a multiple award-winning writer of young adult and middle-grade novels. He lives and teaches in Darwin, Australia.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 18, 2014

    Candice Phee is autistic. She lacks certain social skills that e

    Candice Phee is autistic. She lacks certain social skills that enable her to make and maintain “normal” friendships. However, when she tells her friend’s mother that she isn’t autistic, the mother asks, “Then what are you?” She replies, “I’m me.”




    And she is. She is also brutally honest, painfully literal, and fastidiously observant. These characteristics serve her well when completing her English assignment to write something about her that happened in the past, one paragraph for every letter of the alphabet. Twenty-six paragraphs turn into a book, in which she makes it her mission to ensure that those around her are happy. So, she attempts to help her friend Douglas Benson from Another Dimension get back to his own dimension, and she concocts a scheme to bring her father and his estranged brother back to together. Add to that the need to have her mother stop drowning in sorrow from having lost a child several years ago, and you’ve got one busy girl.




    This award-winning Australian novel is a gem in the world of children’s literature. You will root for Candice, grieve for her parents, and appreciate Douglas’ seriousness. I adored this book, and so will you. This would make a great read-aloud with middle grade students.




    Note: This review was written from an advance uncorrected proof, supplied by Chronicle Books, via The LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. A Common Core-Aligned Teachers’ Guide is available on the publisher’s website.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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