- Age Range: 9 and up
- Grade Level: 3 - 4
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (January 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525457593
- ISBN-13: 978-0525457596
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,012,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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On Guard! Hardcover – January 1, 1997
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6. When Victoria, a sixth-grader, laments, "Can't we have a normal conversation?" during yet another trying dinner full of apparent non sequiturs from her "demented" younger siblings, readers get a sympathetic view of the charming chaos in her family. Actually, it's Victoria's brother Mikey who is the focus of Napoli's subtle lesson in strategy. Mikey has great balance but little self-confidence, and he has yet to win one of the Olympic medals that his fourth-grade teacher awards weekly to a student for achievements ranging from "readiness" to "best research project." On a class visit to the science museum, Mikey is mesmerized by the silent speed and gracefulness of a couple of fencers putting on an exhibition. He badgers his mother to let him take lessons, but he's insecure enough not to advertise his new interest. Youngsters will be drawn to the details of this exotic sport and will chuckle at Mikey's interfamily banter. A bully, an overweight friend, a persistent little brother, and a henpecking older sister all have their place in Napoli's suburban world. So do pretty mouths, runny noses, a raft, a pair of sunglasses, and chocolate chips in oatmeal. What a pleasant potpourri.?John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3^-4. In When the Water Closes over My Head (1994), fourth-grader Mikey struggled to overcome his fear of deep water and learn to swim. Now he takes up fencing, and several chapters tell about his training in balance, footwork, and strategy. Mikey discovers that it's sweet to win and horrible to fail and that lots of things aren't fair. As in the first book, it's his family interaction that is the heart of the story: the sibling rivalry and protectiveness, the combination of irritation and love. Much of the story is told in dialogue, and it rings true, but it may be hard at times for young readers to work out what's going on and what everyone really means. Many scenes seem to have been written for a play and would work beautifully performed as readers' theater in the classroom. Then kids would recognize how any family's dinner table conversation can sound like absurdist comedy, each speaker locked in a private code. "Can't we have a normal conversation?" Mikey's sister shouts. The answer is "What?" Hazel Rochman
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He thinks that becoming a good fencer will be the key for him. He finds out that fencing is more than an athletic activity and comes away with much more than the skills needed to face an opponent on the strip.
This book has a nice view of the main character's family life and displays some very good values for children. I read it to evaluate it for kids who attend fencing classes at a fencing salle with which I am associated and I thought it was a good one to suggest they read. It's a good story even if your child is not a fencer. The main theme is one to which anyone can relate.