Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Something Stinks!

Gail Hedrick's Something Stinks! doesn't stink at all. Recently published by Tumblehome Learning, the middle-school novel is actually a pretty good book. And it was named as one of the "2014 Outstanding Science Trade Books for K-12" by the NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Committee.

Before I acquired this book from the author at the fall Binding Time Bookfest, I was previously unaware that this publisher for science-themed novels existed. 

While you wouldn't think a novel about dead fish, water pollution, and detection of the polluters would be appealing to middle-schoolers, Something Stinks! has enough middle-school angst to appeal to 7th grade girls (and probably boys, too.) Here's the back-of-the-book blurb:

When Emily and her family visit her aunt and uncle at their riverfront cabin, they find many dead fish floating in the water and stinking up the air. But Emily has other concerns—on the last day of summer vacation, her BFF Leanne doesn't go with Emily on their traditional school-supply shopping spree. The next day, Emily learns that Leanne has taken up with a snobby rich girl. At a teacher's urging, Emily joins the school newspaper staff where Sam, a new student and boyfriend of the snobby rich girl, doesn't like her ideas for an article. During the course of the book, Emily encounters problems that most 7th grade girls face: rejection by her best friend, making new friends, bullying, having adults take her seriously, etc.

Something Stinks! is a well-written book. While it teaches some good lessons, it isn't preachy or didactic. It's a plus that the author used a first person narrator. She gets the voice of a seventh grader spot on.

My only complaint about the book is the typography. The font size (at least 14 pt?) is way bigger than than what a middle-schooler is used to (it looks like it's more suitable for a much younger reader). Also—and I'm being picky here—the indents are larger than they need to be, especially since there is also extra space between paragraphs and between individual lines. This contributes to the book's much younger feel.

A couple of places have some typos that the publisher should have caught before the book went to press. In the picture below, can you find the line that's broken in the middle?

Nonetheless, Gail Hedrick has done a commendable job in the writing! I look forward to reading more of her work.

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