cover image Fat Fanny, Beanpole Bertha, and the Boys

Fat Fanny, Beanpole Bertha, and the Boys

Barbara Ann Porte. Orchard Books (NY), $14.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05928-9

Best friends Bertha and Fanny are each experiencing a serious family problem. Bertha's father disappeared two years ago when his plane crashed over the Bermuda Triangle, and now Bertha's mother must work two jobs to feed Bertha and her triplet brothers. Fanny, the only child of two talent agents, lives and eats lavishly. However, her parents have just divorced, telling Fanny only after the fact and asking her to keep it a secret for business reasons. Fanny decides to occupy herself by teaching the triplets to tap dance so they can earn money for Bertha's family. Surprisingly, Fanny evolves into a slim and graceful dancer, and Bertha's father recovers from amnesia and returns home. Using a nonchalant, omniscient voice to chronicle these two families' lives, Porte humorously conveys the irony that life is full of surprises--so one shouldn't be surprised when they occur. Her story is thought-provoking, droll and deliberately incredible. The combination of a unique narrative style and colorful, unpredictable plot produces a clear winner. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-10. (Apr.)