Gennifer Choldenko, Author . Putnam $18.99 (216p) ISBN 978-0-399-23591-7

Choldenko (Moonstruck) vividly captures the feelings of a middle child torn between wanting to be noticed and wanting to be invisible, through the narration of sixth grader Ant (Antonia) MacPherson. Ant believes she was misplaced at birth. "Dear Real Mom,/ This is what I would like to happen. I would like you and my real dad to come RIGHT NOW," she writes in the book she's keeping for her "real parents." She feels like the thorn between two roses, overshadowed by her sisters ("Your Highness Elizabeth" and "Katherine the Great") and misunderstood by her mother and father. She takes solace in the idea of a fantasy family, and in the company of her beloved dog Pistachio and quirky best friend Harrison (he's obsessed with chickens) as well as the nest of falsehoods she constructs for herself. Some have serious consequences, such as switching her stellar report cards with Harrison's lackluster ones, dodging vet bills and accidentally endangering herself and others while volunteering at the zoo. A sympathetic art teacher, Just Carol ("she always says, 'Just call me Carol' "), glimpses the hurt behind Ant's misdeeds and steps in, but ultimately it's up to Ant to face some hard truths, take responsibility for her behavior and forge a fresh start with her family. Poignant passages belie Ant's tough exterior, as with her observations about her best friend, and her interaction with her father upon his return from a six-week business trip. This funny and touching novel portrays the tug-of-war within this strong heroine and taps into very real emotions. Ages 10-14. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-14-250068-2
Prebound-Glued - 216 pages - 978-0-7569-1569-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-8072-0499-3
Paperback - 216 pages - 978-0-7475-8780-4
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-0-7393-6140-5
Prebound-Glued - 240 pages - 978-0-613-67468-3
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