Saturday, October 2, 2010

Kid Konnection: Words That Start With B by Vikki VanSickle

Words that Start With B by Vicki VanSickle (Rated: C)
Scholastic Canada
ISBN: 978-1443102353
Published September 1, 2010
Trade Paperback, 208  pages
Ages: 11-13

It seems that a lot of books my daughter and I have read in the past year deal with Grade 7. Ah yes… the beginning of high school (here in Quebec) or middle grade, it seems everywhere else. It’s the year most kids are twelve going on thirteen and experiencing the ups and downs of growing up. As Clarissa, the main character in Words That Start With B says, “…the first day of school used to mean the death of summer. This year the first day of school means the first day of the rest of my life.”

VanSickle deals well with the issues brought up in her first novel. Clarissa Delaney has high expectations for Grade 7. She’s going to be in Miss Ross’s class, the best teacher in Ferndale Public School, and it’s going to be the best-ever year. But things don’t turn out as Clarissa planned. Miss Ross is on a sabbatical and her new teacher turns out to be Tony the Tiger; her best friend Benji gets bullied, a boy starts giving her gifts and big-mouth Mattie Cohen, the goody-two-shoes is constantly in her business.

But it doesn’t end there. Her mother falls seriously ill right when Clarissa needs her the most. Clarissa’s enthusiasm quickly turns to teen angst and after some hard lessons she learns to deal with the rapid changes that take place in such a short period of time. My daughter and I liked Clarissa, who is brave, courageous and smart. Her behavior at times toward others was rude and inconsiderate, but the consequences were clear. There is a great cast of characters in this book, from kind and sensitive Benji to persistent Mattie who did not give up on befriending Clarissa.

Every chapter was titled with a word that starts with the letter B, hence the title of the book. It made the book unique. Some of the thought-provoking and enlightening topics my daughter and I talked about while reading were: bullying, menstruation, cancer treatment and single parenting. The book's got a great ending, funny too. I would highly recommend this read for a mother/daughter book club and for a teen whose parent is sick.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

Disclosure: Thanks to Nikole Kritikos from Scholastic Canada for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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  1. Sounds interesting. People here in the USA find it strange that I started high school in 7th grade too, but our area was very rural. Our school district had two buildings K-6 and 7-12. It worked!

  2. This sounds like a wonderful book. I think it touches upon many topics that are kind of difficult to bring up other wise.

  3. @Annette
    I actually went to a middle grade school but we didn't call it that. It was only grades 7 and 8, but we still considered it high school. Then I went to a comprehensive high school from grades 9 - 11. No grade 12 in Quebec!

    Yes, lots of difficult topics were well covered in this book!

  4. High school starts in Gr. 7 and there's no Gr. 12 in Quebec? Wow, you learn something new everyday.

    Canada certainly has no consistency when it comes to education.

    In Alberta, high school starts in Gr. 10, Kindergarten is optional and French is not a required subject!

  5. I love books like this that are a catalyst for great discussions!

  6. @Nicola
    Just goes to show how different Quebec is from the rest of Canada!

    I love those kind of books too. Makes a parent take the time to address certain topics.

  7. Hi Laura,
    Thanks so much for your review! I'm so happy that you and your daughter enjoyed my book.

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog, Vikki! Looking forward to your next book.


Thank you for commenting! I appreciate your feedback.

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