Peanut

Ayun Halliday, Author, Paul Hoppe, Illustrator
Ayun Halliday, illus. by Paul Hoppe. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (216p) ISBN 978-0-375-86590-9
Reviewed on: 11/26/2012
Release date: 12/26/2012
Library Binding - 206 pages - 978-0-375-96590-6
Hardcover - 206 pages - 978-0-307-97909-4
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Inventing a deadly peanut allergy isn’t the first thing the average teenager would think of to make herself more interesting, but Halliday (Always Lots of Heinies at the Zoo) takes the idea and runs with it. The moment that sophomore Sadie Wildhack puts her scheme into action, tension starts to build. Chatter from new classmates (“I’m like ‘Oh my God, stop acting like you’ve got cancer!’ ”) makes it clear Sadie will find little sympathy. Commentary from homeroom teacher Mr. Larch provides just the right ironic counterpoint: “Ladies, please! This is algebra, not some tatty Guy de Maupassant story.” The story’s arc is a long, slow fall into public embarrassment; only the attention of Chris “Zoo” Suzuki, a Luddite who hand-delivers his love notes because he doesn’t have a cellphone, saves Sadie from complete social failure. In loose gray cartoons accented with coral, Hoppe (Hat) provides maximum visual information without drawing attention to himself, nailing sequences like one in which Sadie imagines confessing, but struggles to find the words. It’s not easy being both hip and life- affirming, but this team has the secret formula. Ages 11–14. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Jan.)■
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