Thursday, May 7, 2009

Moving Day

Nine-year-old Allie Finkle, heroine of Meg Cabot's series for middle-grade readers, is honest and funny as she talks about her life. Allie has decided that, because life is so complicated, she will write down a list of rules to keep in mind, in the hope that following them will make things easier. Each rule is a title of a chapter, which serves to explain its particular importance. Among her rules are the following:

Don't stick a spatula down your best friend's throat.

It doesn't count if it doesn't hurt.

Always wear a helmet when you're skateboarding because if a car hits you, your brain will splat open, and kids like me will spend their time waiting for the cars to go by so they can cross the street looking for bits of your brain the ambulance might have left behind in the bushes.

You can't let your family move into a haunted house.

In this first book, she learns that her parents have bought a new house, and that they will be moving at the end of the school year. She's not too sure how she feels about this. On one hand, maybe she'll have a new best friend, since she's not entirely thrilled with the current one, who cries whenever she doesn't get her way and always wants to play the same game, over and over, without letting Allie have a turn to be the character she wants. On the other hand, moving will mean she'll have to get rid of her wonderful rock collection (10 grocery bags of rocks are, according to her mother, "simply too many").

When they go to see the new house, which is a rundown old Victorian with gingerbread trim that her mother adores, all Allie can think is that it looks horrible, old, and definitely haunted. Things are not looking good - until she meets Erica, the girl who lives next door, who is just her age, friendly and fun - and definitely does not cry at the drop of a hat. Her house is similar to the new one, but it's been fixed up and looks warm and welcoming, not haunted.

Allie is just starting to think that moving might not be so bad, when Erica's big brother says something about the attic of the new house - and warns her not to go up there. Immediately Allie thinks of a horror movie she'd watched with her uncle, about a zombie hand that was up in the attic, and she knows with a dreadful certainty that they must absolutely not move into that house. Visions of the creepy zombie hand making its way from the attic in the middle of the night make her want to scream and run out of the house. Of course no one believes her, so she hatches a plan to make sure they will not move after all.

My second grader adores this series and urged me to give it a try. I have enjoyed Cabot's Princess Diaries series and have been meaning to try more of her books, and this one was just as enjoyable. I loved the humor that resulted from the way Allie narrates the story, the way she says things that give the reader information without realizing their true import herself. She is fiesty and kind, and is not afraid to stand up for her convictions when it really matters, despite knowing at the time that her actions may well have unpleasant consequences. And she discovers a few important facts about friendship along the way. I'm looking forward to continuing with this sweet, funny series.

Books in the Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series:

1. Moving Day
2. The New Girl
3. Best Friends and Drama Queens
4. Stage Fright

Moving Day (#1 in the Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls series) by Meg Cabot (Scholastic Press, 2008)

Also reviewed at:
Becky's Book Reviews: "I loved Allie. I loved her family. I loved how this one was written. Allie's voice is unique and wonderful and above all authentic."
The Compulsive Reader: "A lively narrator, Allie will keep you entertained with her many exploits and her stark honesty."

5 comments:

  1. This sounds like a book my 8 year old would love! Thank you for the review!

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  2. Never heard of this series by Cabot. Looks enjoyable!

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  3. Tricia - I hope she will. I'm trying to get my 10-year-old to give it a try, since she loves funny books. I hope your 8-year-old likes it!

    Kailana - It's a fairly new series, but she's really cranking out the books. Wish I could do that! :-p

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  4. I bought this for my 8-year-old for Easter!! Looks like I'll have to read it myself!

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  5. Stephanie - Great choice! I'm sure she'll be asking for the next ones like my daughter did. It's so gratifying when I bring home a new one in a beloved series and she gasps and cheers when she sees it. :-)

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