Remember Me to Harold Square

October 14, 2009 at 7:29 pm (Juvanalia, Young adult) (, )

Remember Me to Harold Square by Paula Danziger

Remember Me to Harold Square by Paula Danziger

Remember Me to Harold Square by Paula Danziger
Dell, 6th printing, 1988
139 pages
Genre: Young adult, juvenalia

Synopsis & Review: Kendra Kaye is not looking forward to her fourteenth summer. All of her friends will be out of town, doing fun, exciting things, and she’ll be stuck in New York City with her parents and annoying little brother, Oscar. Then her parents drop a bombshell on her: she’ll also have to keep company with some strange boy from Wisconsin named Frank Lee for six weeks. As a project to entertain and keep the kids busy busy, Kendra’s parents have a scavenger hunt planned for the trio, who will be called the Serendipities. The scavenger hunt will take them all over NYC, exploring museums, landmarks, cuisines, and culture.

Instead of being doofy, Frank is not only pretty cool, but cute as well. He’s got a girlfriend back home, so he and Kendra begin getting to know each other as friends. Even Oscar turns out to be a lot of fun as the summer and the scavenger hunt progress. By summer’s end, all the Serendipities will have experienced some serendipity.

Boy, Paula Danziger sure loves the word and the concept “serendipity.” I can’t recall whether it was in The Pistachio Prescription, but I know it popped up in This Place Has No Atmosphere, and in There’s a Bat in Bunk Five, Marcy goes to Camp Serendipity. IS SHE TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING?

???

???

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There’s a Bat in Bunk Five

October 14, 2009 at 5:01 am (Juvanalia, Young adult) (, )

There's a Bat in Bunk Five by Paula Danziger

There's a Bat in Bunk Five by Paula Danziger

There’s a Bat in Bunk Five by Paula Danziger
originally published 1980
Dell Yearling, 1st printing, 1988
150 pages
Genre: Young adult, juvenalia

Synopsis & Review: Marcy Lewis, known to readers from The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, is back and on her way to summer camp. Her beloved Ms Finney is running a summer camp devoted to the creative arts, and Marcy will be a counselor-in-training (CIT) specializing in creative writing. Not only will Marcy be with Ms Finney and out from under her father’s repressive thumb, but she’s a year older and several pounds lighter. Her senior counselor Corrine is nice, and there are some very cute boys–what could go wrong?

For starters, there’s Ginger, a return camper who was so unpleasant that she was kicked out of one bunk and into Marcy’s. And Marcy discovers that her idol Ms Finney isn’t perfect. And then there are the first thrills of romance.

I can say without a doubt that this was the first Danziger book I ever read. It even has a price tag on it dated June 1988, which leads me to suspect that my stepmother gave it to me to read on a camping trip. (I was always so envious of all those East Coast kids in books, with their fancy summer camps. The closest I got to a summer camp was a few nights at Camp Erdman in elementary school.) Too bad Marcy kind of sucks a little bit now. Read the rest of this entry »

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This Place Has No Atmosphere

October 14, 2009 at 3:46 am (Juvanalia, Science fiction, Young adult) (, )

This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger

This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger

This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danziger
originally published 1986
Dell Yearling, 1st printing, 1989
156 pages
Genre: Young adult, juvenalia

Synopsis & Review: Aurora Williams is thirteen and perfectly happy with her life. Oh, she has some small complaints–not enough allowance, her parents won’t let her get an eyelash transplant, and an annoying little sister named Starr–but she’s also part of the coolest clique in school, the Turnips, she’s a good student with a chance of being in some real high school plays now, and her longtime crush Matthew is reciprocating. And then her parents tell her that they’re joining an experimental colony for five years. On the Moon.

Forced by her parents to try lunar life for at least one year before they’ll reconsider letting her return to earth to live with her grandparents, Aurora’s perfect life is now upside down. She has to socialize with everyone in the small colony, adult and child, drippy and interesting folk alike. Nothing is like it used to be, and she misses her old life terribly. Will Aurora learn to be part of her community and family, and relinquish her self-appointed role as center of the universe?

I’m not sure I’d say this was my favorite Paula Danziger book–it’s so hard to choose–but it’s one I read and re-read voraciously, and when I mention it to others in my general cohort, they know and love it, too. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Pistachio Prescription

October 9, 2009 at 5:00 am (Juvanalia, Young adult) (, )

The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger

The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger

The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger
Dell, 3rd printing, 1979
154 pages
Genre: Young adult

Synopsis & Review: Thirteen-year-old Cassie Stephens is about to start fresh in high school, but she’s not too sure how she feels about it. She feels ugly, like an alien in her own family of beautiful blondes and redheads; she’s self-conscious about her asthma and height; she’s worried about her best friend Vicki’s plan to overthrow the established cliques in student government at their new school; she’s worried about her parents, who never stop fighting. And she also wonders about Vicki’s new neighbor Bernie, and what he could possibly see in her.

Despite being convinced that death by some exotic ailment–or even just asthma–is imminent, Cassie moves forward. She takes on new responsibilities, such as being the nominee for class president, learns what having a boyfriend is like, and tries to deal with her hateful older sister and parental dysfunction. As long as she’s got her pistachios, Cassie figures she’ll make it.

I know I was no older than nine when I first read The Pistachio Prescription, because it’s got a library stamp from my second elementary school, Mililani Waena (no worries, it has a Cancelled stamp, too). It belongs to the first phase of Danziger’s writing, a grittier, angrier, and decidedly less fanciful phase than later works such as Remember Me to Harold Square and This Place Has No Atmosphere, and frankly, I think that era includes Danziger’s best work. Parents don’t understand, teachers are jerks, and the world simply has little to no consideration for kids. Read the rest of this entry »

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