cover image Getting Even

Getting Even

Mavis Jukes. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $11.95 (163pp) ISBN 978-0-394-89594-9

Maggie no longer knows whom to listen to when Corky, the school pest (and principal's nephew) puts a hairball in her sandwich and extorts peppermints from classmates. Her parents, divorced, have differing opinions: Maggie's father proposes ""getting even,'' while her mother, still hurting from the divorce, scorns any advice he offers. Maggie's own friend, Iris, has good ideas that often backfire; Corky gets off the hook in the end. For readers, whatever happens at school doesn't really matter, for Maggie's troubles seem to be a vehicle for her parents' continuing argumentsespecially her mother's. So much of the book is angry; this anger motivates most scenes either in an open or underlying fashion and is never dissipated, only temporarily assuaged. Maggie is the sounding board for her mother's rage and instrument for her father's methods. All she gets in the end is a ``Sorry'' and a hug. Tender and funny moments get pushed aside by the parents' concerns; this simply isn't Maggie's story, nor is it satisfying. Ages 9-12. (March)