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Amalee Hardcover – May 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439395631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439395632
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,189,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7–"In some ways, I'd grown up with five parents," the title character says, referring to her father and his "four big goofy" longtime friends, who have helped to raise her since her mother decamped and then died. In this engaging first-person narrative, 11-year-old Amalee relates the details of her life, from peer issues and teacher problems at school to her father's sudden illness. With him in bed and seriously sick, the four friends take turns caring for both father and daughter, and in the process each one of them realizes his or her potential. Although the end is weighted by a lengthy hypnosis scene in which therapist friend Joyce helps Amalee and her father express their deepest feelings, readers will be cheering for this likable protagonist.–Susan Patron, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. "In some ways, I'd grown up with five parents," says 11-year-old Amalee, who spends every Friday evening with her single dad and his four "big, goofy friends" from college. Amalee has struggled to navigate a middle-school social scene that is dominated by mean girls, and when her father contracts a life-threatening illness, she finds her insecurities ballooning out of control. It's her father's family of friends who hold everything together and help Amalee discover her own strength, forgive the imperfections in herself and her family, and form genuine friendships. Williams, best known as a singer and songwriter, writes a poignant, funny debut filled with wholly endearing characters. Amalee's appealing first-person voice sounds a bit too wise in places, but Williams writes about a preteen's emotional life with piercing honesty, particularly the paralyzing fear a parent's illness brings and the agony and guilt of mistakes. Readers will be charmed by Williams' eccentric, lovable characters and her sharp observations about the world of both middle-schoolers and adults. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on April 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In her fiction debut, Dar Williams introduces us to Amalee, an only child whose work is turned upside down when her single father becomes ill. Though she is an only child, Amalee is surrounded by adults - her father's best pals.
The adults have been close since their days in college. None of them have children with the exception of Amalee's dad, so she alternates between feeling like one of the group or feeling too young around all of them. One woman is a therapist, full of advice for Amalee; another woman is a chatterbox. One is an aspiring artist; another is an aspiring chef, always cheery, who has Amalee assist him with a late-night cooking fest.
Amalee thinks about others frankly - a la Alice in the Phyllis Reynolds Naylor series - but often bites her tongue, keeping secrets to herself. She does not want her classmates and teachers to know her father is sick; she does not want her father and his friends to know that she herself has no friends at school.
Ultimately, Amalee finds herself thankful for the extended family she has in her father's friends - and finds some new friends of her own. Readers can relate to (and discuss) Amalee's fear of loss and her fear of being a bully-by-association. This is a heartwarming book, not too sappy, not too cliché. It is a clean, quick read, good for young readers and their families.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Egirl on April 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I received this book today as a gift, and I read it all in one sitting. I loved it. I related to Amalee, even though the details of her life as an eleven-year-old are quite different than the details of mine were, because her character is very authentic. The level at which she examines her life, the way she struggles between what she thinks and what she can manage to say, is intelligent, yet authentically preteen. As the novel progresses, the other characters grow beyond caricatures in the same way that I think an eleven-year-old begins to see adults (and herself) as layered people.
Best of all, the book just made me feel good without attacking me with a bunch of lame, blatant emotional missiles. And it achieves what I think is the responsibility young adult literature has over other types of literature: it teaches a lesson, offers the reader something to take with him or her about growing up, in a very genuine way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Franklin Demuth on April 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I thought Amalee was great. The story and characters were engaging, and the writing and imagery were certainly on a par with Dar's usual level of excellence. It reminded me quite a bit of Nora Raleigh Baskin's books, which are also set in Ulster County, NY (definitely check these out if you enjoyed Amalee). Dar has an exceedingly rare gift: the ability to tell beautiful, interesting stories via both song and novel.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By WanderingStorm on August 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was a little nervous when I started to read this book. I love Dar William's music, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this. I had nothing to worry about. I was very impressed by her writing style and the tale she had to tell. The book is very easy to read. It flows from beginning to end. The tale is one that everyone can understand and be moved by. Everyone's been 11 years old and felt like everything around them is going crazy. Everyone's had the same feelings as Amalee. And I'm sure everyone has parents who have at least one "crazy" friend. Or is a parent and has that friend.
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Format: Paperback
What I really liked about this book was that it contained a complicated child protagonist and an unusual family situation--a single dad who had a whole group of dedicated lifelong friends. I REALLY appreciate seeing a support system for adult people that involves their friends and doesn't depend on romantic partnerships as the cornerstone of all important relationships in people's lives. I also did like seeing that Amalee herself was struggling with what she thought of as becoming a mean kid to survive, socially. I remember being in school and being pressured to be cruel, to be exclusive, to harass and hurt others in order to gain the approval of the people I cared about, and that certainly wasn't the kind of person I wanted to be. I liked that Williams sympathetically portrayed a child in this situation.

But I didn't much care for the storytelling--it felt odd and uneven, sometimes like the character was talking to me directly and sometimes more like she was just living and letting me observe, and there was a pervasive feeling like something other than the characters was driving the story. Amalee has popular but cruel friends whom she doesn't really like, Amalee gets distracted by home problems, Amalee finds a friend who's authentic, Amalee has figured out friendship. Or Amalee has a frenemy who tries to guilt her into hanging out, Amalee explodes at her when she says something horrible and cruel, Amalee is about to suffer terrible punishment over the results of her lashing out, Amalee is rescued by a caring adult and everyone says I'm sorry.
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Format: Paperback
I found Amalee to be a sweet book about an endearing girl. Amalee's father is sick and since her mother left long ago, his friends take up the responsibility for helping him and caring for her. Amalee has always seen her father's friends as a bunch of misfits. As they band together and help her, this view of them changes.

I enjoyed the quirkiness of each character and their camaraderie. I also enjoyed Amalee's self talk. She found interesting ways of dealing with her problems at home and at school.

The one thing that I didn't really care for was how everything wrapped up neatly in one little package. But the clean writing, the interesting story and the lovable characters make up for this shortcoming.

I would not recommend this for a light-hearted story. The main story of her father's illness can be a bit tough and kids may need to talk about this.

I recommend this book to readers who like a story about real people. This is not a girl-y story just a story about a girl who - with help -works through big problems that come up in her life. Amalee is smart and kind-hearted. Even though she doesn't always make the best decisions, I feel that she means well and this makes her a good role model.
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