From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6–Eleven-year-old Callie's summer has gotten off to a bad start. Her large extended family, “the weirdest family on the block,” embarrasses her in full view of the neighbors and her ex-best friend, Amy, who has dumped her in favor of snotty Samantha, leaving Callie feeling hurt and betrayed. Callie loves to swim but a humiliating belly flop finds her banned from the community pool. She yearns for a friend who still prefers riding bikes to mooning over boys. Then Hoot moves in next door and becomes an unexpected pal. The summer turns out to be an eventful one after all, with diving lessons with her dad, the chance to try out for an elite diving team, and a near-tragedy at home. Callie is a well-limned child with recognizable flaws and a rueful inner voice. The novel sometimes feels overfull of characters and story lines, but Mack's well-drawn personalities and lighthearted touch keep the narrative lively and engaging. Youngsters will find themselves laughing at Callie and her colorful family, even as they recognize themselves in her story.Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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The summer before sixth grade isn't going well for 11-year-old Callie. Her best friend has dumped her, she has been banned from the community pool after ignoring the rules, and now she is stuck doing chores in her chaotic home, surrounded by her parents, two brothers, two dogs, Grandma, and Uncle Danny and his ferrets. On the positive side, a new neighbor, skater-boy Hoot, offers friendship, but she worries that people will think that he is her boyfriend. Then her beloved father becomes ill, and as she gains new perspective and insights, she learns to look beyond herself, stop worrying about what others think, and discover the meaning and value of family and true friendship. Readers may find Callie's lively, first-person voice sometimes tedious and melodramatic, partly due to the abundance of italics that pepper her narration. Still, Callie's process of self-discovery is realistic and appealing, as are the story's themes about the importance and rewards of compassion and support. Grades 4-6. --Shelle Rosenfeld