Sea Monkey Summer

Cheryl Ware, Author
Cheryl Ware, Author Orchard Books (NY) $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-531-09518-8
Hardcover - 978-0-531-08868-5
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Straight from page one, readers will take a shining to Venola Mae Cutright, the sassy heroine of Ware's first book, presented entirely as letters the 11-year-old writes during the spring and summer of 1996. The main recipients of her frank, funny communiques, replete with numerous soul-baring digressions, are the circulation director of the local newspaper, who, after Venola's pestering, gives her a paper route; her best friend, Sally, away at camp with Venola's nemesis, at whom Venola hurls various barbs; and, most comically, the mail-order company from which she purchased a supply of greatly hyped yet ill-fated sea monkeys. After discovering that the creatures are actually brine shrimp eggs, the indignant Venola wails, in a letter to Sally, ""THEY WILL NEVER GROW GOLDEN CROWNS OR LOOK LIKE THE PICTURES IN THE MAGAZINE!"" Ware uses the epistolary framework to full advantage, displaying Venola's peppy, dramatic personality in vivid color. The one-sided correspondence, however, leaves little room for readers to know more than the single character. The only other person to emerge with any dimension is the outlandish Miss Wilma, one of Venola's newspaper customers, who lives above a funeral parlor (and whose graphic shop talk leads Venola to opt for cremation). Even so, most readers will hope that Ware will post further communication from this avid pen-pal before too long. Ages 9-11. (Apr.)
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