Sarah Kate Tate, otherwise known as Skate Tate, has mixed feelings about middle school. Her best friend, Susie, seems to be undergoing a sea change, causing her to hang around with a girl named Kiki ("I think that Kiki is a silly name. It sounds like a choking sound, Kiki."), dye her hair blue, and lose interest in The Happy Scrappys, the scrapbook-making club they've been in since third grade. Fortunately, Skate's favorite person in the world, GUM (Great Uncle Mort), is always helping her remember not to be afraid of what's "around the corner." But when tragedy strikes, how can Skate find the courage to go on, let alone see what's around the corner?
Paula Danziger (Snail Mail No More, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, the Amber Brown series, etc.) has her finger directly on the pulse of sixth-grade life in this authentic novel about the very normal, bubbly Skate. Her scrapbook insert could be out of any middle-school girl's world, with happy faces, goofy photos, silly captions, and mementos from vacation spots. Readers will probably want to go out and start "cropping" their own scrapbook right away! (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Young scrapbook artists, in particular, will take delight in this book's unique artwork, which could come straight out of any middle-schooler's collection of memorabilia. The pictures (collages of photos, stickers, cut-outs and humorous captions) synchronize perfectly with Danziger's (the Amber Brown books) sparkling narrative. Both effectively capture some significant moments in Sarah Kate ("Skate") Tate's sixth-grade year. At first, the 11-year-old narrator has mixed feelings about middle school. She struggles to get her locker open and hates having to take industrial arts ("Industrial arts sounds like factories are turning art out and selling it in art shows in local hotels"). She grows apart from her best-friend-and-cousin, Susie, but Skate also makes some new acquaintances, like Huey, Duey and Louie, the "D.D.T." (the "Donald Duck Trio"), who ride her bus (and "quack"), and cute Garth Garrison, who shares her passion for art. These minor changes pale in comparison to the loss of Skate's favorite uncle, a world traveler, who dies suddenly. However, his adventurous spirit is kept alive in the form of his last wish, a unique legacy. As always, the author is right on target, encapsulating the fluctuating emotions, intensified passions, quirky humor and secret dreams of preadolescent girls. The book, climaxing with a family trip to Plymouth, Mass., advocates trying new activities and making new friends, pertinent encouragement for "tweens," who may be intimidated about starting middle school. Skate's sample scrapbook pages may well inspire those who already indulge and attract budding "scrappys" to the cause. Ages 8-12.
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