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Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2005 (Vol. 73, No. 12))
Cass, the quirky, self-confident girl who appeared in Pollet's earlier Nobody Was Here (2004), about prep school life in the mid-1980s, is trying in eighth grade to sort out who she really is: orphaned child; invincible girl; third wheel? She's discovering that at 13 things start clanging around in disharmonious earnest. The garrulous boy seated behind Cass in English class seems to voice some of this turmoil. Rod is bold and not at all perfect, but their friendship is a gift, and his abrupt departure challenges Cass to try to find her own missing pieces. Pollet steers a neat and relatively innocent course through the troubled and murky waters of middle school. Readers will recognize Cass's lack of perspective and experience as their own, and there are moments enough of genuine warmth and humor that they will care what happens to her. 2005, Orchard, 160p, $15.95. Category: Fiction. Ages 10 to 12. © 2005 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Janis Flint-Ferguson (KLIATT Review, July 2005 (Vol. 39, No. 4))
The protagonist here is Cass Levin, being raised by her grandmother after the death of her parents and going into 8th grade with her best friends Penelope and Tillie. Well, not exactly with her best friends, since the school schedule shows that they are in entirely different classes. Cass makes friends with a new kid, Rod Punkin. Rod is witty and wise, but is he also a "behavioral problem." He calls out, mostly inappropriately, and gets thrown out of all the classes except English. When he is assigned to the same literature group as Cass, he shows his talent and demonstrates the know-how to put together a film, Olivia Twisted, the group's horror homage to Oliver Twist. The characters are typical young adolescents, but in the midst of middle school maneuvering there is also the story of Cass coming to terms with the long-ago death of her parents. As she tries to be friends with Rod, she also struggles with the childhood memories of losing her parents. Both situations come to a head when she runs away from a field trip and meets Rod in the summer cottage where she had spent time with her parents. In the end this is a poignant story of learning what it means to fit in. (Sequel to Nobody Was Here) Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, Scholastic, Orchard, 160p., $15.95. Ages 12 to 15.
POLLET, Alison. The Pity Party: 8th Grade in the Life of Me, Cass. 149p. CIP. Scholastic/Orchard. 2005. Tr $15.95. ISBN 0-439-68194-4. LC 2004022331.
Gr 5-8In this sequel to Nobody Was Here (Scholastic, 2004), readers get to know Penelope Schwartzbaum's friend Cass better. Orphaned when she was eight, she lives with her beloved guardian, Bea, and attends a New York City private school. Cass is devastated when she discovers that she does not have classes with her two best friends. While she is at first horrified that troublemaker Rod Punkin sits behind her in English class, the two eventually develop a friendship, and she begins to understand herself and why he is the way he is. She is able to come to terms with her parents' death, accept the benefits of counseling, and gain a sense of belonging. Inventive details, such as Cass's word lists, the comforting rhyming games she remembers playing with her mother, and the warm support of her art-collecting guardian and psychoanalyst aunt make this a first-rate purchase. Multilayered characters inhabit this complex, thoughtful book that beautifully hones in on middle-school friendships.Debbie Stewart Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI