In Girls' Life advice columnist Weston's (Girltalk; For Girls Only) humorous first novel, 10-year-old New Yorker Melanie Martin tells the story of her family vacation to Italy. Through journal entries, Melanie, a likable, believable fifth-grader, describes everything from her relationship with her parents and six-year-old brother, ""Matt the Brat,"" to Italian Renaissance artists' proclivity for nudes. After touring museum after museum with her mother, an avid art-history teacher, Melanie writes, ""I think Italy is full of miracles. I also think Italy is rated R. Which I can handle. But maybe Mom and Dad should have left Matt at home with a baby-sitter."" Weston clearly knows a 10-year-old's take on foreign customs: after the heroine observes Italian laundry flapping on clotheslines, she writes, ""Well, if your panties were flapping in the wind, would you want your neighbors to see holes in them? I think that's why Italians need so much new underwear and so many underwear shops."" The entries, which range from the everyday observations about desperately needing to go to the bathroom on the plane to the more dramatic, such as meeting her father's ex-girlfriend, are peppered with Melanie's quirky rhymes and handwritten jottings that reflect her moods. Weston effectively proves that perhaps travel's greatest gift is a reinvigorated perspective on life at home. Ages 8-10. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000 Release date: 05/01/2000 Genre: Children's
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