Melanie in Manhattan
Dell Yearling Entertaining
read ... Recommended ... 5 stars
The narrative opens with Melanie’s diary entry dated March 31. It is a Brand-New Diary, Melanie is on-board a boat as part of a party hosted by Mr Martin’s boss. Melanie, her parents, little brother and others are all out to see the Statue of Liberty. Life for Melanie is almost perfect. She is in fifth grade, has a best friend, Cecily and a boy in Spain that she likes. Melanie has just gotten her first kiss, mice Milkshake and Pancake have produced a family of ten offspring. The one fly in the ointment is Suze, the new girl at school. Well, of course there is another irritation; brother Matt the Brat is always underfoot, full of silly sayings and rhymes and just in general being a bothersome little brother. Suze the Ooze and her meddling, bragging and always trying to horn in with Cecily, is moving right to the top of the list of Melanie’s major annoyances. Jumping baby mice, a trip to Lincoln center, Friday email from Miguel in Spain, Central Park in bloom, detention, and a boy named Justin all are part of the tale. A trip to the Bronx Zoo, too much rain, a stop at the Met, and a telephone call from Miguel comes just at the right time. The end of the year dance, Field Day at school, buying a first bra, in fact buying three, Miguel comes to New York, Cecily spends part of vacation with her dad and Melanie has a new special friend round out the book.
"Melanie in Manhattan" is another festive read sure to please girls in the target reading group of 9-14 year olds. Once again Author/ParentWeston demonstrates her deftness as an accomplished writer. Clearly Weston knows and effortlessly captures the essential quality of this age group. "Melanie in Manhattan" is an easily read, delightful account. As with all of her Melanie books author; Weston nimbly weaves a realistic portrayal of childhood/growing up angst, a touch of geography, along with mention of artistic work; this time it is with works of Spanish artists in addition to at times muddled or disatisfying interpersonal relationships.
The format of diary entries filled with sketches, high spirits, a child-like, hand drawn map of Manhattan, fun and chatter predictable from an eleven-year-old girl are a continuing pleasure to read. The reader is caught up in the narrative immediately. Melanie is a typical ‘almost teengirl’ who is learning to deal with changing emotions surrounding boyfriends, sharing friends, home and school. In her diary Melanie sets downher hopes, anguish, anger and happiness in her diary.
Writer Weston gently guides the reader into an understanding that Melanie, the reader and likely we all at one time or another have faced each of the feelings, situations and problems Melanie is facing. Girls ages 9 – 14 may not always want to talk with parents or teachers about their roiling emotions. Reading Melanie’s life may well help these girls realize they are not so different, odd or ‘out of it’ when their own lives may seem to mirror many of the ups and downs as Melanie is experiencing.
Melanie in Manhattan is a book sure to fit well into the classroom ‘free reading’ program, a home library and pleasure reading for middlegrades. Look forward to reading others in the series.
Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
Melanie Martin Goes Dutch
Dell Yearling Interesting
read ... Recommended ... 5 stars
The book opens with Melanie excited as can be. She has a brand
new diary, and something exciting to write in it. This was the
best day ever… it was the last day of school and the last
day of fourth grade. Before long Melanie is facing the prospect
of that long 'nothing to do' summer. Cecily her best friend has
gone on a trip to visit her dad, and Melanie is missing her friends
from school. Melanie's diary continues with day to trials of
a ten and a half year old girl.
Things are about to change, in
early July Melanie's school teacher Mom receives a grant. Before
leaving for Holland so that Mom can use her grant to study artist
Vincent Van Gogh Mom gives Melanie a copy of 'The Diary of Anne
Frank.' When Cecily's mom is diagnosed with breast cancer Melanie
writes her fears and worry in her own diary along with her notes
about the upcoming trip. At last the day comes to fly to Holland,
and horror of horrors; all the luggage is lost. Melanie is beside
herself when day after day the luggage remains lost and they
are wearing the same clothes. After several days pass with no
luggage they all go shopping. Whew! Melanie was happy for that.
At least Cecily got to come along on the trip while her mom is
having surgery back home.
Before long Melanie is getting
really out of sorts with Cecily and her penchant for always saying
and doing the right thing. And before you know it Melanie and
Cecily have a big fight at one of the most important museum's
Melanie's Mom has come to visit. Of course Melanie records every
bit of the lost luggage, the sights and sounds of Holland and
that quarrel with Cecily in her diary. The trip to Holland and
the trip home add more fuel for Melanie's writing.
"Melanie Martin Goes Dutch"
is a refreshing read sure to please girls of the 9-14 group.
Author Weston obviously knows this age group well, she proves
her prowess as a gifted writer by producing a nicely wrought
narrative sure to appeal to girls and their Moms. With out coming
off as stilted or preachy Author Weston deftly weaves a bit of
geography, the story of Anne Frank, a good bit of art including
one of my own favorite artists Van Gogh, along with a discussion
of breast cancer and the import it can have on the lives of others
into the work.
The format of diary entries with
all the squiggles, cartoons and verbiage to be expected from
a ten-year-old girl are a delight to read. The reader is caught
up in the narrative immediately. Melanie is a typical girl who
grumbles, laughs, finds her parents a source of embarrassment,
argues and resolves the quarrel as she writes it all down to
remember forever. Humor abounds as the travelers deal with the
lost luggage and a visit to a topless beach. Melanie's feelings
of not doing quite as well as her friend, finding her little
brother a pain in the neck and not always wanting to 'go along
with the program' are all feelings most youngsters know well.
Writer Weston gently guides the reader into an understanding
that Melanie, the reader and most likely everyone has these same
feelings at one time or another.
"Melanie Martin Goes Dutch"
is a book sure to fit well into the classroom 'free reading'
program, a home library and pleasure reading for middle grades.
Look forward to reading others in the series.