School Library Journal, starred review Laugh-out-loud funny...
Publishers Weekly, starred review Readers will wait with bated breath for Cohn's next novel.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Author of the highly praised teen novel Gingerbread, Rachel Cohn shifts down to a younger gear with this totally "graayate" page-turner about a New York City girl getting to know her new Aussie stepfamily.
When Annabel's dad (Jack) moves to Australia to live with his new wife (Penny) and her kids (Lucy and Angus), Annabel's only concern is to lure him back home. So when she goes to visit the clan in Sydney, this New York 12-year-old arrives with a serious attitude. Despite the warm hospitality from everyone -- especially 12-year-old Lucy -- nothing Down Under makes the grade, including the relaxed Aussie fashions, the strange food, or the way people speak. Soon, however, Annabel begins to actually have fun with her stepfamily, but after she takes a sneaky, anti-parent escape trip to Melbourne with Lucy, the entire group quickly realizes that uniting as a family -- no matter how disjointed -- is better than staying worlds apart.
With a sassy but thoughtful main character and a tone that keeps the book from getting too message heavy, The Steps is a lighthearted look at nontraditional families that will leave readers feeling sunnier and wiser. Cohn expertly develops her diverse cast so that no one is clichéd or predictable, and readers can even use the cool character flowchart on the book's cover to keep track of who's who. Annabel and her 21st-century family make for one "rip snorter" of a read. Shana Taylor
12-year-old girl travels to Australia to visit her father and his new family with hopes of winning him back. "The author of Gingerbread once again creates a funny and feisty narrator caught in a complicated family situation," wrote PW in a starred review. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Events force Annabel to come to terms with her jumbled extended stepfamilies in this funny modern tale. Annabel is memorable as a cool New Yorker with an eye for the well-coordinated outfit and scorn for her Aussie Steps and their less sophisticated ways. Cohn's book is full of amusing yet telling incidents and human emotions that are honestly portrayed. The pace never lags. This comes without the 'irreverent' qualities that characterized the author's book, Gingerbread. 2003, Simon & Schuster,
Gr 5-8-The very with-it musings of Annabel, trying to figure out how to relate to a recently acquired "bazillion" step- and half-siblings with more on the way, are very cheerily portrayed by Caitlin Greer. Her rendition of a near-teen girl comes out perfectly voiced as she reads Rachel Cohn's novel (S&S, 2003). Providing an Australian accent for the down under set of steps proves a challenge, since those parts are quite large, especially the key same-age step Lucy. Greer doesn't miss a beat reading those characters, but the accent doesn't always come off perfectly. The preteen listeners who will find this cheerful and realistic book appealing aren't likely to notice and will appreciate the local color provided in the attempt. This story makes completely obvious the child's desire to be the one and only center of both parents' lives. But it allows the development of a more mature and accepting viewpoint as Annabel realizes that her adored father is a happier, more effectual person in his Sydney home, and that her Australian steps also have their difficulties with this new family arrangement. This character growth happens just in time for Annabel to discover that she will soon have a new set of steps when her mother remarries! This story convincingly portrays the feelings and attitudes of people trying to adjust to new family circumstances. A short contents note on the case tells what chapters are covered on each tape side, a feature that is helpful for coordinating book and tape. This is a fine choice for reluctant as well as more accomplished readers.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, Painted Post NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
An oh-so-New-York 12-year-old struggles to sort out her relationship within what might be called the ultimate blended family (the front cover has a helpful diagram of all the relationships). Annabel has the sort of relationship with her parents where she calls them by their first names. Even after they split, all was pretty much okay until Jack moved to Australia to marry Penny, become Angus and Lucy’s stepdad--an eventuality that has Annabel seeing red--and father Beatrice. Annabel doesn’t really want to go to Australia over the Christmas break, but she does, hoping somehow to steal her father back. What she discovers, however, is that he’s happier than he ever was and is utterly disinclined to move home, however much he misses her. When Lucy and Annabel, at first enemies but later, convincingly, good friends, sneak off on a trans-Australia train trip, they set into motion a family crisis that brings all members of Annabel’s family to Sydney (including her new stepfather- and stepbrother-to-be; it’s been a busy vacation for her mother, too) in a sort of giant group hug that, however unlikely in the real world, is nevertheless a nicely satisfying way to end the story. It is a relatively predictable tale of raw feelings, jealousy, new friendships, and reconciliation, but it is enlivened both by Annabel’s sassy voice and by the acuity of her observations: "I had . . . never met them, and I knew that in those two years they would have developed a secret family language only they could understand." If there’s rather a lot of parent-to-child explaining about love and relationships, readers can still only hope that their own families can sort themselves out as well as Annabel’s. (Fiction.11-14)