From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6?A short, simple book full of humor and adolescent angst, this title presents two months from the journal of 12-year-old Venola Mae Cutright. The girl's elderly grandmother has just been widowed and Venola has been sentenced to spend her nights with the woman and her 13 cats in her trailer home in the Cutright's backyard. Bed at 7:30, no TV or music except for religious stations, no phone calls or friends visiting, seven nights a week. Readers may wonder why only Venola, of the six Cutright children, is subjected to this regimen. However, this is Venola's journal so readers don't hear from her parents, her siblings, her grandmother, or her friends. What they hear is Venola's voice loud and clear and it's one worth listening to. She is smart, curious, and funny. She does not like the cats at all, and she doesn't much enjoy her grandmother either. Over the course of the two months, she develops an appreciation for the woman even as she begins to notice her deterioration, and an affection for at least one of the cats. There are no surprises here, but it's an interesting coming-of-age story and Venola's cartoon line drawings add life and lightness to her tale.?Susan Oliver, Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library System, FL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 4^-6. After her grandfather's death, 11-year-old Venola Mae begins a diary recording her feelings about the changes in her life. Her parents have decreed that she should spend every night with Grandma, who's afraid to live in her trailer alone. Grandma lives with 13 cats, watches only religious shows on television, and calls bedtime at 7:30. As the weeks go by, fleas take over the trailer, the smell of cat urine permeates the place, and in her increasing confusion, Grandma gets Venola Mae up in the middle of the night to serve her a breakfast of chocolate pudding and send her off to school. In the end, Grandma is diagnosed with diabetes, and Venola Mae is allowed to live at home again. If this sounds a bit heavy with problems, it's all delivered with a surprisingly light touch and accompanied by childlike ink drawings from the "diary." Ware captures many of the details of school life and pre-teen attitudes in a lively way, though the novel as a whole is less satisfying than its individual journal entries, which can be quite readable and entertaining. Carolyn Phelan