cover image The Pizza Puzzle

The Pizza Puzzle

Susan Beth Pfeffer. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (119pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32202-7

Take one spunky seventh grader, add two parents arguing in whispers, mix in one teacher on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and you have the ingredients of a not-so-tantalizing pizza puzzle. It all begins when Taryn is overheard dreaming up ways to get back at mean Mrs. Erdman, a teacher who humiliates students on a regular basis. Taryn decides to save her best scheme--having 10 pizzas delivered to her enemy's home--for use on a young woman named Lisa, who she thinks is having an affair with her father. While Taryn is hot on Lisa's trail, pizzas are delivered to Mrs. Erdman and Taryn, naturally, is the prime suspect. The overbaked plot does eventually straighten itself out, but long before the denouement, readers may lose interest in the cardboard characters and many will have already identified the culprit responsible for the confusion. While some readers may have fun following the twists and turns, a better brand of entertainment may be found in Pfeffer's previous works, such as Twice Taken and The Year Without Michael. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)