Friends aren't always easy to get along with are they? Especially if, like Kimberley, they are under pressure from their parents to win a national spelling bee. Or if they are the naive new kid in school, like Lurlene (yes really), who has awkward dress sense, a loud laugh and is traumatised by her parents' divorce. Sometimes you find yourself stuck in the middle, like Ann, forced to mentor Lurlene, at the expense of the cute boy who teases her and Kimberley's companionship.
So, this is a book about much more than spelling. But I do have a few issues with some of the representations. There is a lot of teasing of these girls with little in the way of comeuppance for the perpetrators. Lurlene cops a lot of it, and seems clueless to do anything about it. The branding of characters into narrow stereotypes might be convenient for young readers, but c'mon now authors! Can't we break these common assumptions once in a while? See Diamond In The Window for more on this.
Speaking as a geek, I'd like to think that such geekdom as the pursuit of excellence in spelling might one day be seen positivly.
The resolution was a little too neat, expected and twee, but at the same time left some of the bigger questions hanging. How will Kimberley's parents cope with her performance? And what about the whole divorce theme? Or is it just expected that these kids will get on with their fractured families?
- younger readers having friendship bust-ups
- spellers? although there's a surprising lack of spelling in the story
- if you liked the documentary Spellbound
- If you like those makeover type scenes; Lurlene gets a new look for under twenty dollars
Happy tales :)