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When Gretchen's friends suddenly turn on her and no one wants to sit with her at lunch, Gretchen does not understand what has happened, until she realizes that the new girl in town, Marybelle, has had something to do with it.
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"Everything had been easy until sixth grade," laments DeClements's (Nothing's Fair in the Fifth Grade) refreshingly candid heroine at the opening of this thoughtful if inconsistent novel. The source of Gretchen's difficulty is Marybelle, a new girl in school whose first misstep comes during a "demonstration talk," when she shaves off part of wealthy, pretty Susan's thick strawberry blond hair and insists it was a mistake. The lonely and troubled Marybelle continues to weave a hopelessly tangled web until?in a final fateful deceit?she tells the other kids at school that her mother caught Gretchen stealing something from their house. Understandably miserable when her friends then turn against her, Gretchen relies for support on her sympathetic, very credible family. The tale's climax is an eerie, intervention-like encounter, masterminded by Gretchen's half-brother, in which her classmates confront a humiliated Marybelle. Though DeClements's central characters are strong, some of the adults are two-dimensional (e.g., Gretchen's mom is pretty, flighty and obsessed with getting married; Susan's mother is exacting and elitist), and her plotting is occasionally strained (why would Gretchen's friends believe Marybelle over her?). Despite these shortcomings, the author delivers a hard-hitting message about truth-telling. Ages 8-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4^-6. Gretchen likes all the kids in her sixth-grade class, but when Marybelle moves to town, things change. Marybelle's class demonstration of hair clippers "accidentally" ends with a classmate's hair lying in clumps on the floor. Worse still, Marybelle tells convincing lies about Gretchen and her best friend, sowing seeds of doubt between them and breaking up their relationship. In an ending that owes more to wish fulfillment than to realism, Gretchen's big brother acts as an unlikely deus ex machina, putting things right when he gathers the characters for a revelation of truth. DeClements is right on target, however, as she captures the sixth-grade milieu with a truth that is awful in its precision: the first-year teacher who changes from freewheeling and fun to fearful and insecure; the shifting circles of cliques that exclude former friends; and the painful realization that the damage caused by lies and rumors can't be completely undone. Carolyn Phelan
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Book Description Cavendish Square Publishing, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110761450211