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Just Ask Iris Hardcover – November 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

There are many adjectives that could be used to describe Frank's (I Am an Artichoke) 12-year-old narrator, Iris Pinkowitz. Spunky, enterprising and braless (until she can earn enough money to buy the much-needed article of clothing) are just a few words that fit the bill. As the story opens, Iris has just moved from the Bronx to Manhattan with her Latina mother and older brother, Freddy; her father has stayed behind. She'll be starting a new junior high come fall; and she really needs to buy that bra soon. While she's supposed to be spending her summer learning to type in preparation for computer school, she instead climbs the fire escape outside her building in search of a particular cat. During her quest to find "Fluffy," Iris meets various neighbors and starts a business doing odd jobs for them. There's the Avon saleslady, Daisy, who needs Iris to baby-sit her grandchildren; Mr. Gordon, who wants his dog walked; the brutish Tattoo Man, whom Iris tries to avoid; Willy, a boy in a wheelchair with a chip on his shoulder; and the Cat Lady, an eccentric old woman on the top floor, who might be Fluffy's owner. Through hilarious and poignant moments, Iris adroitly charts her growing pains and her budding friendships. Packed with action, lively dialogue and engaging personalities, this slice of urban life is thoroughly entertaining. Ages 10-14.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-Iris Diaz-Pinkowitz, her older brother, and their mother have recently moved to a new apartment in New York City. Two things are worrying the 12-year-old-she needs to start wearing a bra, but her mother is too busy working to take her shopping, and she needs to practice typing before beginning Computer School in the fall. One bright note in her life is the cat that has been visiting her every morning. One day, it doesn't show up. As she tries to find Fluffy, she hears about the Cat Lady who lives at the top of her building. Climbing up the fire escape (the hallways are too scary and the elevator is broken), she meets some of her new neighbors: 13-year-old Will Gladd, who is wheelchair-bound; Daisy Cuevas and her three grandchildren; elderly Luisa Serrano; and Yolanda Alvarez. And she finds Fluffy (along with dozens of other felines) with the Cat Lady. Iris starts "Just Ask Iris," an errand/dog-walking/baby-sitting service, and earns money to buy herself a bra. When the Cat Lady is threatened with eviction, Iris is able to get the apartment residents to pull together and stop the action. She is also instrumental in getting the long-out-of-service elevator repaired. Frank tells this appealing contemporary story with a light touch and plenty of humorous dialogue. She has created a likable, resourceful heroine who knows how to take care of business and how to be a good friend.

Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Lexile Measure: 560L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books; 1st edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689844069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689844065
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,685,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I wish that Just Ask Iris were a series because her life is so funny! She has a lot of problems throughout the book such as getting a bra. She makes money and lots of friends that she can turn to, even the crazy Cat Lady. I like the way she figures things out and how on every page there is at least 1 laugh. I recommend this book to girls 8 and up. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on July 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
Iris is 12-years-old and growing. Everybody seems to notice this except her mother; her mother wants Iris to stay a child for as long as she can. But even a mother can't stop Mother Nature and Iris is growing up --- in fact it's time for her to get a bra. The problem is, her mother says she can't afford to buy Iris a bra right now. Iris can't turn back puberty! What is she going to do?
Then a cat comes down the fire escape one night and invites himself through their security gate, right into bed with Iris. He's a big softie, and Iris loves him. Every day he comes down to visit her while her mother's at work, and she feeds him. She names him Fluffy, and they sit together on the fire escape in the summer sunshine.
Iris worries about the cat, especially since he takes walks around the neighborhood everyday. Iris starts looking around for Fluffy --- the upside is, she gets to know her neighbors. There's a great big man all covered with tattoos, who looks just like his great big pit bull. There's a wacky parrot who cusses a blue streak (especially if anybody tells him he's a dirty bird). There's an old man who lets his dog out every day to do his business in the stairway. And there's the loony Cat Lady. Everybody tells Iris, no matter what else she does, to stay away from the Cat Lady. But Iris wonders if Fluffy came from the Cat Lady's apartment, and she has to find out.
Now, while Fluffy and his wanderings may take Iris's mind off her money problems at home and her girl issues, the problems are still there. How do all these plot switches help her in her quest for new lingerie? You'll want to read this book to find out just how. A girl determined to get herself what she needs, and help everybody else in the process, is unstoppable!
--- (...)
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Format: Hardcover
What is this book? A-plus for funny fire escape scenes, but I can find better for my family. The plotline is that Iris needs a bra because, to quote one character, "the chick's got titties." And Iris needing a bra is what pulls the whole building together. Wow.

At first I was excited to find a book that tackles the minor annoyances of being part of a mixed-race family ("What are you?"), but come on.

language: piss, pissed-off, titties, titties, up the wazoo, don't piss him off, "Oh my God." piss, pissed, pee, peeing, piss

Is this how we want ten year olds to talk? And if so, why?
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Maya Haberland on April 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Iris, in trying to purchase her first bra-an item she needs desperately-starts a business called "Just ask Iris." Unfortunately the elevator in her building is out of order so she uses the fire escape instead. She not only meets the inhabitants of her new Manhattan apartment building, but also, she manages to pull you into the story. A very fast paced read. I'm a middle school teacher and find this a fun resource to discuss landlord laws and living conditions in the city.
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