Though not as psychologically involving or as subtly crafted as her Unbroken, Haas's contemporary novel will likely amuse readers as it educates them on the topical issue of backroom politics. When 13-year-old Madison ("Mad") Parker heads to her grandmother's house in Vermont for the summer (while her mother is working in Washington, D.C.), she hopes some of the woman's confidence will rub off on her. Deemed "the Chair" (because she serves as chair of the Senate Finance Committee), her grandmother seems self-assured, principled and forthright--even as she finds herself in the middle of a dispute over clear-cut logging. Ironically, only when Mad discovers that her grandmother suffers moments of doubt does the heroine begin to take risks of her own. The author convincingly weaves together what at first seem disparate strands (Scottish dance lessons and showing horses) and introduces gutsy, wise women (Morag, the dance teacher; and Jane, who runs the stables in Mad's hometown). As the story unwinds, the heroine discovers some painful truths about the father she never knew, which the author balances with humor and insight. The conclusion wraps things up a bit quickly, but Haas offers no pat solutions; instead she allows readers to examine life's complexities. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mad, short for Madeline, has nearly perfected the art of being invisibleto her teachers, her classmates, and her mother. Maybe spending the summer with her Gam will make the summer of the Three Rsriding, reading, and rottingmore bearable. What Mad does not realize is that this will become the best summer of her life as she finds courage and respect for herself. Middle school, the prospect of high school after a short summer, every girl's dream of owning a horse, and uncertainty about what life will hold combine to give this story an accurate perspective of a teenage girl's life. As if these things were not enough for Mad to worry about, thoughts of her fatherL. G., for Long Goneand a best friend who is miles away further complicate her life. Mad's inner strength, encouraged by her forceful but loving grandmother, help Mad grow and flourish in what otherwise would be a dismal summer. As with her award-winning book Unbroken (Greenwillow, 1999/VOYA October 1999), the author has created memorable characters, a descriptive plot, and an honest portrayal of the emotional struggles of a young girl. Middle school and junior high school libraries or media centers will need this highly recommended book. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Greenwillow, 167p, . Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Anne Liebst SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
Mad (Madison) Parker has survived middle school by making herself "invisible"dressing in a way that doesn't call attention to herself and avoiding conversations. As she is packing for a summer with her grandmother (a powerful state senator in what seems to be Vermont), her equally powerful mother (a lawyer leaving for a temporary job in Washington) discovers Mad's strategy and worries that she is too lonely and anti-social. The grandmother promises a solution to Mad's shyness: Scottish country dancing! Mad thinks this is crazy but agrees so that she can have her summer riding her horse Cloud on her grandmother's farm. Mad has been fascinated with dressage and the dancing horses of Vienna, and she discovers that country dancing has many of the same precise motions and graceful, interweaving steps, so she finds out she loves it. In other ways, she gets confidence and finds her voice this summer, involved in her grandmother's political fights to save forests from clear-cutting, for instance. Haas also wrote Unbroken, a fine novel set in Vermont in the past, which also features a 13-year-old girl and her horse. This contemporary story may attract more YA readers, even though they might be unfamiliar with country dancing and dressage. Shyness and horses are two subjects that may help to introduce this book to readers. Also appealing are Mad's ambivalent feelings toward her father, who left before she was born, and the way Haas's plot slowly reveals facts about this missing man. Mad is a thoughtful, intelligent young teenager, just moving on to high school and toward the strong woman she will becomeYA readers will like her. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior highschool students. 2000, HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 23cm, 192p, $15.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; September 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 5)
Gr 6-9-Madeline (Mad) is packing to spend the summer with her grandmother (Gam) when her mother finds her Language Arts journal and reads an entry. "I have set a record-three consecutive school days without speaking a single word to anyone. No one meets my eye. I have actually become invisible!" Her concerned Mom threatens summer camp or a psychologist to help the 13-year-old overcome her shyness, but Gam, the Powerful Chair of Vermont's Senate Finance Committee, has a more effective plan. She takes her granddaughter along with her to her Scottish country-dancing group. Mad sees the difference between Gam's private life and her public persona and learns that her grandmother is also a shy person who has found her voice in politics. The passage of a controversial bill to ban clear-cut logging concludes the legislative term and Mad finds the courage to screen Gam's phone calls, to speak out at a public meeting, and to survive embarrassing mistakes. The girl's insightful thoughts and observations drive this first-person narrative, tempering fear and panic with a humorous voice. Mad keeps in touch with her best friend and her mother via e-mail, typing out her thoughts and deciding which ones to share or delete. She teaches her horse to overcome his fear of cows so they can ride the country trails surrounding Gam's house. Haas creates a large cast of well-rounded characters to weave engaging details about political life, Scottish country dancing, horse training, and personal growth. A lively and engaging coming-of-age story.-Laura Scott, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
PLB: 0-06-029197-4 This is a less-than-riveting novel about a 13-year-old trying to decide who she is. Madeline, Mad for short, lets her fears rule her actions and is intimidated by the two very strong-willed women close to her. Her mother is an attorney and her grandmother is chair of the Senate Finance committee in the rural East Coast. Mad just wants to be invisible. She is sent to her grandmother's for the summer to relax and ride her beloved horse, Cloud. Throughout the season Mad learns much about politics as her grandmother is caught in the controversial debate surrounding clear-cutting, but more importantly she discovers Scottish dance. Terrified during her first class, Mad progresses rapidly and learns to love the complicated steps and nuances of partnering. Meanwhile, she is trying to devise a way to help Cloud over his newfound fear of cows. The sub-theme throughout is her desire to impress the father she has never met. Her confidence grows in direct relation to her ability to dance, and to her amazement she speaks out at a heated political meeting. Senatorial details and the intricacies of Scottish dance steps bog down the story. Haas (Hurry, p. 714, etc.) links life to dance, and dance to horse riding, in a clumsy way, but by the end Mad begins to understand and like herself. This book will be of some interest to girls who enjoy stories with an equestrian element. (Fiction. 10-12)