From Publishers Weekly
Two-time Newbery Medalist Lowry (The Giver; Number the Stars) introduces a feisty, friendly heroine in this light novel. Readers know immediately that red-haired, freckle-face Gooney Bird Greene is as unorthodox as her name: wearing pajamas and cowboy boots, she arrives at the door of her new second-grade classroom all alone, "without even a mother to introduce her." She announces she has just moved from China (which turns out to be the name of a town, not the country) and demands "a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything." Dressed each day in another eccentric outfit, she relays to the class a series of stories that are "absolutely true" even though they initially seem anything but. Stretching the facts creatively through some wily wordplay, Gooney Bird explains how she spent time in jail (while playing Monopoly), acquired diamond earrings at a palace (they came from a gumball machine in an ice cream shop called The Palace) and directed a symphony orchestra (she directed the lost driver of the bus transporting musicians to the auditorium). Interruptions from curious classmates heighten the fun. Never mind the dubious likelihood that a second-grader would possess such command of language and pithy delivery; youngsters will likely hope that Gooney Bird has enough tales stored in her fertile imagination to fill another volume. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 6-10.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3-Second-grader Gooney Bird Greene is new to Watertower Elementary School. She tells fantastic stories, which are "always absolutely true." Her clothes are always unusual, ranging from pajamas with cowboy boots to a pink tutu over green stretch pants. In seven chapters, she captivates her classmates with her wild tales about "How Gooney Bird Came from China on a Flying Carpet" and "The Prince, the Palace, and the Diamond Earrings." She assumes the role of the teacher as she fields the class's questions about storytelling. The students learn that stories have main characters and secondary characters, and that using the word "suddenly" gets people's attention. In the last chapter, she takes off her props, an orange fur jacket and a cowhide purse, which she used to tell how her cat fell in love with a cow, and assures her peers that everyone has all sorts of stories to tell. While the "voice" of Gooney Bird is supposed to be that of a second grader, it sounds more like an adult talking through her. Most of the time, she sounds just like the teacher. The cleverly titled stories could spark children's interest in writing their own stories. This isn't one of Lowry's best, but it's a useful read-aloud.Janet M. Bair, Trumbull Library, CT
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.