Friday, August 3, 2012

Lucy the Good by Marianne Musgrove, illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Lucy is not having a good day. She's had a fight with mean girl Jacinta and nobody understands, least of all her teacher Ms. Denny. So she threw a tantrum and ended up in the time out chair yet again. Then she gets into even more trouble when they go to pick up her great-aunt from Holland. Lucy was looking forward to sharing her room with Tante Bep, but her aunt thinks she's bad and tells her scary stories of Black Piet, who comes to carry off naughty children in his sack.

Things go from bad to worse as Lucy gets into more and more trouble until finally she decides she has to test herself to see if she's really bad or good. Of course, her test goes wrong, but everything turns out ok; her parents reassure her, Tante Bep admits she was wrong, and even Ms. Denny turns out to be much nicer than Lucy had thought.

This is a little longer than the beginning chapter books I'm looking for, but Lucy's frustration and endless troubles are well-written and will draw readers in from one scenario to the next. While I never really bought Tante Bep - it's hard to believe Lucy's parents wouldn't tell her about their son's serious food allergies  or that Lucy would believe the old Black Piet story - she makes a good catalyst character to set off Lucy's troubles and finally get everyone to resolve the problems. Musgrove does a very good job of showing the other adults as real people; one of the things Lucy realizes at the end is that there are other perspectives. She realizes that Ms. Denny sometimes get distracted and flustered, that her dad has trouble relating to Tante Bep, and that Tante Bep isn't quite as mean as she seems either.

The book concludes with a recipe, translation of Dutch words and phrases, and an activity.

Verdict: This isn't quite what I was looking for and I thought the Tante Bep character was a bit unrealistic (would she really be old enough to find Lucy's dad being a "home manager" strange?), but it's a good intermediate chapter book and kids will enjoy reading about Lucy's endless problems and their satisfying resolution. An additional purchase.

ISBN: 9780805090512; Published 2010 by Henry Holt; Borrowed from the library

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