Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Secret Letters From 0 to 10

Secret Letters From 0 To 10 (Puffin Books) Secret Letters From 0 To 10 by Susie Morgenstern

Awards: ALA Notable/Best Books; Booklist Editors' Choice; State Award; Mildred Batchelder Award/Honor Book; American Bookseller Pick of the List; Le Prix Totem

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is the reason that GoodReads is so wonderful. I saw a children's and YA literature instructor from Rutgers and a classmate of mine from library school put up 5-star ratings for this book recently, and I had to know why. 

Poor 10-year old Ernest lives in France with his grandmother. Every day is exactly the same, boring and dull. But then spunky Victoria moves into his class at school and immediately proclaims that she and Ernest will get married in thirteen years, eight months, and three days. She bulldozes into Ernest's life, shaking up everyone and everything in her path.

Victoria's family is part of what makes this book so great. She has has 13 brothers named Dan, Reuben, Joseph, Naphtali, Simeon, (you get the drift), and Jeremy. Her family reminds me so much of the Cassons, but French. They are outrageous and flawed, but generous and kind.

I was enchanted from the first page. I think I read the entire book with a smile on my face. If there is anything I didn't like, it was how tidily the last couple of pages fixed everything up. Before you give it to your kid, you might want to know that there is one awkward scene where Ernest is given alcohol (but he doesn't swallow) and he blurts out that he and another classmate "made love." I think these bits are probably extra weird to American cultural sensibilities. But, this book won the French equivalent of the Newbery for good reason. Definitely recommended for age 10 and up.

 Also reviewed by:
    Book 10 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge
    Book 6 of 50 for the New Author Challenge
    Book 13 of 25 for the MG Reading Challenge
    Book 4 of 10 for the Book Awards IV Reading Challenge
    Book 2 of 25 for the Support Your Local Library Challenge 

    Source: Library


    bermudaonion said...

    Victoria sounds marvelous! I love characters like her in books and in real life!

    Cami Checketts said...

    Thank you. I'm always looking for books for my sons. This sounds perfect.

    Corinne said...

    I've put it on my list :)

    Kim said...

    Thanks for the recommendation. I'll keep my eye out for it.