See/Later Crocodile

Georgess McHargue, Author Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers $14.95 (226p) ISBN 978-0-440-50052-0
This story builds to a peak and then abruptly ends; in between is an unrealistic story of Johanna, a girl of indeterminate age (she's either 14 or 15 and in the eighth or ninth grade, but it is not definitely stated) whose parents start a used-paperback bookstore and are absent enough from her life that she can juggle babysitting a three-year-old, high school assignments and caretaking for old Mrs. Pease, her dog and 14 cats. After Mrs. Pease breaks her hip, Johanna is left in charge of the elderly woman's run-down Victorian house, which is filled with garbage, fleas, animals and hidden cat corpses and coffins. It is difficult to swallow that Johanna's parents both give her so much freedom to take care of this woman's life and hide their business woes from her because she's only a child. In fact, most of Johanna's escapades simply don't ring true: signing checks with Mrs. Pease's signature, coping with a menagerie of animals and their problems, visiting the elderly woman first at the hospital and then at a nursing home (where she manages to extricate Mrs. Pease from the clutches of a money-hungry doctor-owner) or even simply finding her place in the world. Ages 10-14. (September)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
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