cover image Bingo Brown's Guide to Romance: 3

Bingo Brown's Guide to Romance: 3

Betsy Cromer Byars. Viking Children's Books, $14.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84491-3

Fans of Bingo's previous books will wish things went better for him here. The story opens with the unexpected sighting of his long-lost heartthrob, Melissa, and closes with the sad revelation that Melissa is not, as hoped, back in town for good. In between Bingo tries, mostly in vain, to connect with his inamorata (Is she really returning? Does the Xeroxed love letter Bingo inadvertently sent her still rankle?), penning his efforts in a missive intended one day to spare his kid brother some of love's agonies. Recorded with brutal honesty, Bingo's near misses comprise an engaging narrative that is, in typical Bingo fashion, poignant and hilarious by turns. His relations with his family members, especially his brother and his father (who is suffering his own disappointments) are tender in their own right. Perhaps because the novel contains so many missed connections, however, Melissa's character remains largely enigmatic, and the plot never coalesces. Ages 8-12. (May)