Learned her wacky grandma was coming to spend the day at school with her;
Lost her Notebook with Everything that Matters in it, including her homework;
Got a black eye.
Tore her skirt.
And it's only 9 a.m.
Could things get any worse?
Prolific author Paulsen (Hatchet; Nightjohn) aims for laughs but misses in this slight story about an anal-retentive girl forced to work without her net. The "exceedingly organized" Molly keeps life tidy in a three-ring binder with sections for school, social life and family life, in order to manage the home she shares with her grandmother, Irene, since her parents' death in a car accident (a loss treated matter-of-factly). Irene and Molly are not ideally suited as roommates: for each of Molly's strictures, her grandmother has a corresponding wild hair. The morning that the binder disappears, Molly must prepare for a test without notes. It's also Senior Citizen Day, an event Irene hasn't missed-to Molly's horror-since kindergarten. The broadly farcical plot careens from one implausible event to the next. In Molly's mind, the loss of the notebook sets off the chain of mishaps. She gets a black eye before leaving the house ("Come on, princess, we'll grab an ice pack for that eye on the way to the bus stop," Irene says). She also tears her skirt, finds herself lugging around both Irene's huge handbag and a friend's cello, and delinquents who are lighting matches singe her hair. Unfortunately, Paulsen never explores the real motivation behind orphaned Molly's need for structure, and the revelation that Irene deliberately swiped the binder seems cruel, not funny. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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February 13, 2006
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