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Ben and the Sudden Too-Big Family Hardcover – March 20, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 3–5—Ten-year-old Ben, whose mother died when he was a year old, is satisfied with the calm, predictable life he shares with his father. Then, in the 18 months this novel spans, three females drastically alter his world. He categorizes the changes as "all right" or "not all right," according to his barebones philosophy of life. First, there's Casey, the co-owner of a new bakery, who is warm, attentive, and fun. When she becomes his stepmother, she engenders mostly positive changes. The second is Maudie Mingmei, the baby Casey was arranging to adopt from China before she married. Although he worries that having a younger sibling will cause chaos, Ben is charmed by his lively new sister. He encounters Casey's great aunt, called "Poornora" because of her overwhelming pessimism, when they are both reluctant houseguests at a beachside cottage shared with Casey's parents. More of Casey's relatives are renting the surrounding houses. Complications arise as Ben tries to fit in with his new cousins. Even worse, Poornora decides that since they are both outsiders, they should be miserable together, and constantly seeks his company. Ultimately, he's able to appreciate this persnickety lady as well as the rest of Casey's "too-big family." Rodowsky is in good form, crafting another book with a likable narrator whose experiences with acquiring a stepmother and an adopted sister are portrayed in a positive, humorous manner.—Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Ben is used to being in a two-person family--just him and his dad. Then things change. First, his dad marries Casey; then the three of them go to China to pick up the little girl Casey had decided to adopt before she met Ben's dad. Ben's philosophy of life boils down to the idea that there's stuff that happens that's all right, and stuff that happens that's not all right. So far, despite some adjustment problems, things have been all right, but Ben is tested by a family vacation that includes Casey's 25 relatives. Straightforward and easygoing, like Ben himself, this story has a simple appeal. Even without any moments of high drama, it will keep readers' interest--in part because Ben's voice is so endearing but also because everyday concerns are realistically played out. With Ben's compassion for a relative left out at the family gathering, the story takes on some heft as well. A solid offering from a veteran writer. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 1010L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); First Edition edition (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374306583
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374306588
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Amazon Customer on December 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ben and his dad have lived alone ever since Ben's mother died in an accident when he was a baby. Ben's life is good--quiet, comfortable, and predictable. However, when he and his dad stop at a new bread store that opens in town, Ben's life changes forever.

Ben's dad falls in love with one of the owners of the bread store, Casey, and marries her soon after (with Ben's permission of course). Ben likes Casey, though, and doesn't mind her moving in and sharing her with his dad. Life is still all right. Little does Ben know, his life is still going to change! Casey has always wanted to adopt a baby girl from China, and marrying Ben's dad hasn't changed that desire. When both Ben's dad and Casey tell him that they have been selected as parents for a Chinese baby girl, Ben is surprised, thinking that the whole adoption process was something that was going to happen a long time in the future. Before he knows it, little Maudie Mingmei is a part of their family. Although he faces all of these huge life changes in less than a year and a half's time, Ben is happier than ever with his new family.

Ben is an intelligent, funny character the reader will immediately like. Casey's gigantic extended family is enough to make anyone duck and hide, but Ben tries his best to face the situations in which he's placed. He learns how important family really is to him.
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Format: Hardcover
It's always been Ben and his father - until they meet Casey and Casey decides to marry his dad. A baby is adopted from China - and pretty soon there's a huge family building. Ben's transition to this large family drives BEN AND THE SUDDEN TOO-BIG FAMILY and makes for a moving, fun story of a boy's ability to adjust. Middle school readers, especially, will find it involving.
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