Molly's Reviews

Melani MartinMelanie in Manhattan
Carol Weston
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.

Melani MartinMelanie Martin Goes Dutch
Carol Weston
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.




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© 2005 by Molly Martin