UNITED TATES OF AMERICA
Paula Danziger, . . Scholastic, $15.95 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-590-69221-2
Young scrapbook artists, in particular, will take delight in this book's unique artwork, which could come straight out of any middle-schooler's collection of memorabilia. The pictures (collages of photos, stickers, cut-outs and humorous captions) synchronize perfectly with Danziger's (the Amber Brown books) sparkling narrative. Both effectively capture some significant moments in Sarah Kate ("Skate") Tate's sixth-grade year. At first, the 11-year-old narrator has mixed feelings about middle school. She struggles to get her locker open and hates having to take industrial arts ("Industrial arts sounds like factories are turning art out and selling it in art shows in local hotels"). She grows apart from her best-friend-and-cousin, Susie, but Skate also makes some new acquaintances, like Huey, Duey and Louie, the "D.D.T." (the "Donald Duck Trio"), who ride her bus (and "quack"), and cute Garth Garrison, who shares her passion for art. These minor changes pale in comparison to the loss of Skate's favorite uncle, a world traveler, who dies suddenly. However, his adventurous spirit is kept alive in the form of his last wish, a unique legacy. As always, the author is right on target, encapsulating the fluctuating emotions, intensified passions, quirky humor and secret dreams of preadolescent girls. The book, climaxing with a family trip to Plymouth, Mass., advocates trying new activities and making new friends, pertinent encouragement for "tweens," who may be intimidated about starting middle school. Skate's sample scrapbook pages may well inspire those who already indulge and attract budding "scrappys" to the cause. Ages 8-12.
Reviewed on: 02/04/2002