Tuesday, March 4, 2014

"Ava and Pip"

Carol Weston has been the “Dear Carol” advice columnist at Girls’ Life since 1994. Her twelve books include The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf) and the three additional titles in the Melanie Martin series, as well as several nonfiction titles for young women.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, Ava and Pip, and reported the following:
From page 69:
10/28 bedtime
Dear Diary,

Brace yourself because I have a lot to tell you. I’ll start with the good part, then get to the BAD part.

When Dad and I arrived at the library, Mr. Ramirez asked Dad if he was working on a new play. Dad said, “Yes, but tonight is all about my daughter.” He put his arm around me, and it was half-sweet, half-embarrassing.

Soon everyone sat down on folding gray chairs. None of the Emilys were there and neither was Chuck or Matthew (the boy who wrote about dragons). But Riley (pony girl) and Alex (earthworm boy) were. Alex is the kind of boy who burps without saying, “Excuse me,” but tonight he was dressed up and on his best behavior...
I just opened Ava and Pip to page 69, above. The voice is representative of the rest of Ava Wren's diary. She's a ten-year-old who writes from the heart and calls 'em as she sees 'em. This is the scene when Ava, a fifth grader, is sitting in the Misty Oaks Library next to her dad, hoping her mom will show up, and also hoping that her short story will win first prize.

Ava is a natural born writer with a passion for palindromes, but "Sting of the Queen Bee" does not come in first. It garners an honorable mention and gets Ava into a heap of trouble. Ava had foolishly based "Sting of the Queen Bee" on a real person, a seventh grader named Bea. She had assumed Bea was a friend-stealing bully, but she'd had it all wrong.

Fortunately -- no spoilers here -- Ava manages to make things right, and by helping her very shy sister Pip find her voice, she winds up finding her own. Ava's story may not have won T-O-P-S-P-O-T, but by the end of the book, Ava has saved her sister and she knows she will become a writer for real.

Whenever I write books for kids, my main goal is for them to be fun to read. But because I've been the "Dear Carol" advice columnist at Girls' Life since its very first issue in 1994, I'll confess that I do try to sneak in a few helpful bits too. Like: Don't jump to conclusions or write mean things about people. And: There are ways to come out of your shell. In this book, I hope the five Pip Pointers will help lots of kids shake off their shyness.
Visit Carol Weston's website.

--Marshal Zeringue