What a premise! Think Gordon Korman's No More Dead Dogs meets Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl.” School Library Journal
“The farcical elements are sure to please, but there's plenty of thought-provoking material here, too.” Booklist
“Blacker brings gender bending to a new level of hilarity and suspense in this contemporary novel set in suburban London. The character of Sam-turned-Samantha will prompt readers to reconsider their preconceptions about the sexes and the roles people play.” Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Blacker (The Angel Factory) brings gender bending to a new level of hilarity and suspense in this contemporary novel set in suburban London. Matthew, a Year Eight student, is wary when his parents agree to take custody of Matthew's recently orphaned, "tough-guy" cousin from America. True to his rebellious reputation, 13-year-old Sam (whom Matthew characterizes as "an accident in human form") starts stirring up trouble almost as soon as he arrives, insulting Matthew's family and getting into a brawl with one of Matthew's best friends. To get even, Matthew and his gang of buddies invent an initiation rite for Sam: he must attend his first week of school dressed as a girl. Surprisingly enough, not only does Sam agree to the proposition, but passes his "test" with flying colors. Dressed in a skirt, he fools everyone-teachers, the principal, male and female classmates-into believing he is a sassy, fully liberated young lady, destined to become one of the most popular students at Bradbury Hill School. Told from multiple viewpoints (including both teens and adults), the story offers several entertaining twists (such as Sam inheriting a fortune and playing a game of cat and mouse with his long-absent, criminal father). On a more subtle level, the author conveys how Sam undergoes a transformation on the inside as well as the outside. Gradually evolving into a more open, vulnerable and sympathetic adolescent, the character of Sam-turned-Samantha will prompt readers to reconsider their preconceptions about the sexes and the roles people play. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2005: Twelve-year-old Matthew Burton's life is turned upside down when his cousin Sam from America comes to live with his family in England after Sam's mother is killed in a car crash. It's bad enough that Sam is from California and his mother Galaxy was a bit different, to say the least. But now, Sam is going to be attending school at Bradbury Hill with Matt and his pals, and he's not exactly like any of them. To complicate matters, Matt and his Shed gang are at war with a group of girls. Of course, if there was a way to get across enemy lines and find out what they were cooking up, things could get pretty interesting. And since Sam has long blonde hair and no one knows him, he could be the perfect undercover spy. So, the deal is, if Sam goes to school dressed as a girl for five days and infiltrates the gang of girls who are creating trouble with Matt and his gang, then Sam is accepted, is in, is one of the guys. However, when "Samantha" not only infiltrates the girls, but becomes wildly popular, he has no desire to go back to being Sam. Blacker uses gender bending to explore the dynamics between adolescents of both sexes and shows his readers that walking in the other guy's, or gal's, shoes is one of the best ways to understand each other. Readers will laugh at Blacker's characters, complications, and comedic chaos in this lighthearted look at the war between the sexes. Age Range: Ages 12 to 15. REVIEWER: Michele Winship (Vol. 42, No. 1)
Gr 7-9-What a premise! After his mother's death, Sam, 13, leaves California to live with British relatives. He takes on his cousin's dare and attends his new English school with a fresh identity-as a girl. Sitcomlike high jinks ensue; Sam(antha) isn't just a new girl on campus-"she" teaches the (real) girls how to fight, and the most popular boy falls for "her." And it turns out that Sam's biological father is out of prison and on the hunt for him to get his inheritance. Think Gordon Korman's No More Dead Dogs (Hyperion, 2000) meets Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (Knopf, 2000), with Sam's pedestal created primarily by the awe awarded him by the comically shallow characters around him, who tell the story through alternating-voice chapters or paragraphs. Blacker's attention to Sam's gender identity is primarily in its laugh appeal; readers will definitely note the lack of plot or character development. However, this is still a fun addition to middle school collections and simply begs guided discussions about the concept of gender.-Rhona Campbell, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Matthew, a British 13-year-old, is all set for a quiet summer of knocking about with his friends when his mother is called away to America to attend the funeral of her wild sister, Galaxy. Matt's quiet summer is shattered further when his mother returns with Sam Lopez, his 13-year-old cousin. Sam's a typical lower-middle-class American teen, and he immediately alienates Matt's friends with his self-important swaggering. As school approaches, Sam wants to be friends with Matt's gang and he suggests an initiation stunt. Matt comes up with the idea of Sam pretending to be Samantha for the first week of school, and Sam surprisingly says yes. Even more surprisingly, Sam becomes every girl's best friend and every boy's lust crush. When Sam's dad, fresh out of prison, arrives sniffing around for money Sam inherited from his mother, everything gets even further out of hand. Everyone involved, except Sam, shares the narration of this amusing gender-swapping tale. Quite different from Blacker's other import, Angel Factory (2002), this farce with a slightly too-convenient ending will please readers looking for light laugh. (Fiction. 11-14)