When Russian skating coach Andrei Grosheva offers twelve-year-old farm girl Claire a scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid, she encounters a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything.
Gr 5-7-Claire Boucher is a busy seventh grader. She not only balances school with the responsibilities of work on her family farm, especially now that the maple sap is running, but also coaches young skaters at the nearby skating school. On the day that this delightful novel opens, she is rushing to get ready for the annual Maple Show. While she's aware that a famous Russian skating coach will be scouting, she is not hopeful that he's there for her. Competition terrifies her. But she lands her double toe loop and is offered a scholarship to the summer program at Lake Placid. But how can Claire ask her already busy parents to make the hour and a half drive three days a week? Does she really want to compete? Is she squandering her incredible talent if she chooses not to accept the offer? Messner has a flair for depicting engaging characters who are imperfect without being quirky. The dialogue between classmates and siblings is realistic, and the intergenerational or extended family relationships are interesting. The author shows the intensity of the world of competitive skating without dwelling on its rough edges, making it accessible not only to tween readers, but also to those who might have Olympic aspirations. There's a neat little twist in the plot and an ending that is sure to both surprise and resonate.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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December 07, 2010
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