Thank You, Lucky Stars

Beverly Donofrio, Author . Random/Schwartz & Wade $16.99 (234p) ISBN 978-0-375-83964-1

Adults hoping to share their own enthusiasm for Donofrio (Riding in Cars with Boys ) with younger readers may not get what they want from the author's first work for children. The story line is classic: narrator Ally starts fifth grade only to discover that her best (and only) friend, Betsy, has ditched her for the girl they both loved to loathe. Enter the kooky new girl who glues herself to Ally, a low-level class bully to bother them and two other outcasts to befriend them, and then throw in a school talent show (in which, despite the contemporary setting, everyone wants to sing Simon and Garfunkel or Beatles songs, or disco-dance. Unfortunately, Donofrio succeeds too well in building Ally's class-reject personality: her inability to read Betsy's social cues might invite some sympathy, but her manner and style (inserting “Thank you, Lucky Stars,” as an expression of gratitude, an uncontrollable penchant for a dance move she calls the “heebie-jeebie”) come across as immature, detracting from an otherwise personable narrative and jeopardizing the bond that readers may form with her. New girl Tina's gratingly over-the-top behavior is explained by the gradual, realistically rendered disclosure that her mother is bipolar and off her meds, while Ally turns out to have a sibling who died before Ally's birth, a circumstance that never fully dovetails with Ally's family dynamics. The ending, neat and feel-good, seems wishful and out of sync with the lifelike portrayals that precede it. Ages 9-12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/28/2008
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Children's
Library Binding - 234 pages - 978-0-375-93964-8
Open Ebook - 123 pages - 978-0-375-84963-3
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