cover image Thwonk


Joan Bauer. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $14.95 (215pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32092-4

Bauer's (Squashed) lighthearted (literally) story subtly delivers a meaningful statement to its YA audience. A.J., a high school senior who is very serious about her future career as a photographer, is quickly approaching the final deadline for a big assignment: to take the cover photo for the Valentine's Day issue of her school paper. As it turns out, her inspiration for that task comes from a most unusual source. Driving home one day she almost runs over a box, out of which rolls a stuffed cupid. He comes to life, setting A.J.'s existence onto an amusing-if obviously unbelievable-roller-coaster of a ride. Not only does he lead her to the site of the ideal photo op for the paper, but he shoots his arrow into the heart of the drop-dead gorgeous Peter Terris, whom A.J. has long ogled from afar. Peter asks her out and then, much to A.J.'s embarrassment, insists on proclaiming his undying love in public-loudly. Catapulted into Peter's popular, decidedly vapid crowd, A.J. discovers that what she has wished for is more likely to suffocate her than to bring her happiness. Bauer's buoyant narrative will elicit chuckles as it delivers its message (thwonk!) with the accuracy of a well-aimed arrow from Cupid. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)