Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)

Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat

Will be released in September 2009.

Bobby and Holly have been best friends for years, but now that they are in fourth grade, everything is changing.  Though they hung out together at the Labor Day Fiesta, they immediately separated when one of Holly’s girl friends appeared.  Bobby was left holding the fish that Holly had won with his last dollar.  Now Bobby finds himself always at odds with the girls in his class, especially Holly.  Plus, he now has a fish and not the dog he has always wanted.  What’s a boy to do?

Yee has struck the exact right tone here for children in 3rd and 4th grades.  She has incorporated just enough humor, friendly adults, and an age-old complication of grade school.  Bobby is a protagonist who finds himself constantly thrust into unexpected situations, and he manages to make the best of them in the end.  His dilemmas are funny, relatable and interesting.  Another touch that I appreciated was the subtle insertion of different races into the text.  Bobby is part Chinese, and one of his friends is part Indian.  It is referred to in passing and just as part of life.  Nicely handled and very important. 

My ARC copy of the book does not include the art except for rough drafts, so I can’t speak to that aspect though the number of illustrations will make the book welcoming to young readers.

A great book for young readers, this will speak to them and their lives.  Recommended for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from ARC sent by Scholastic.

Wild Girl

Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

Lidie lives with her aunt and uncle in Brazil, and now is being reunited with her father and brother in the United States.  In Brazil she spends her time riding horses and she hopes to be able to show her father, a horse trainer, and her brother, a jockey-in-training, that she can ride too.  Reaching America, she finds that so much is different.  From the language barrier, to her skills at school, to her relationship with her father.  Everyone expects her to be the small girl they left behind in Brazil, but she has changed.  Her father gives her an old horse to teach her to ride, not knowing that she can ride well.  But Lidie wants to ride Wild Girl, the new spirited and unbroken filly.  How can Lidie show everyone who she really is without betraying everything she once was and where she came from?

Lidie is a fantastic character.  Her voice is strong and consistent, her dilemma understandable and relatable, and her actions true to who she is.  I love having a heroine in books who is flawed, struggling and gloriously real.  Lidie is a voice for many girls who come to the United States, struggle with the language, and are bright, vivacious and fascinating. 

By combining girlhood and horses, Giff has created the perfect setting.  Everyone can relate to a love of horses and riding.  It is a language that translates across all of us.  A world we are all a part of.  It was a brilliant choice of setting and character melding together.

Giff has also excelled at creating a home filled with love where there are communication problems and misunderstandings.  She has written all of our homes into this one, a universal home for children who are seen as younger than they really are and are struggling to reveal who they have become. 

With her universal themes combined with a vivid characterization, Giff has created a book that should be in the hands of almost every pre-teen girl.  I guarantee that they will see themselves on the page no matter what their first languages are.  Highly recommended for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy provided by Random House.