Sunday, September 26, 2010

Firegirl - Tony Abbot

This book is about seventh graders, but I would probably put the appropriate grade level for an actual reader a couple grades lower. The subject matter had the potential to be a bit more sophisticated, but the manner in which it was dealt with was pretty superficial. Firegirl takes place in a private school on the east coast, where a new student has arrived. The new student was the victim of a horrible fire, and as a result, the majority of her body (including her face) suffered third-degree burns. The student's "otherness" is immediately apparent, with the other students not wanting to hold her hand in a sharing circle, and starting vicious rumors about what "really" happened and her role in the fire itself. The main character of the book, Tom, is fascinated by her, and when a teacher asks him to bring her schoolwork over to her house one day, he has the opportunity to get to actually talk to her. At the same time, Tom is experiencing some growing pains in his relationship with his best friend, whose parents are going through a divorce, as well as developing a crush on the school's best looking and most popular girl. There's a lot going on, and the book is only 149 pages, so as you can imagine, all the themes get short shrift. The main, lesson, of course, is that one should not judge a book by its cover, that a person's appearance does not dictate their worth, and that everyone is worth getting to know. Certainly an important lesson, but I'm not sure the way in which this particular story was told worked for me. I would be interested to hear kids' opinions on this one.

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