Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fiction Wednesday - A review of Artsy-Fartsy

I love books that are presented in a diary or journal format. Today's title is just such a book, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the book, the writer is a boy whose summer vacation is just starting. All he really wants to do is to lie around and be lazy all summer, but this is not what ends up happening at all.

Karla Oceanak
Illustrated by Kenda Spanjer
Fiction
For ages 9 to 12
Bailiwick Press, 2009, 978-1-934649-04-6
   Aldo’s grandmother Goosy has given him a sketch book for his birthday and he has no idea what he is going to do with it. Goosy’s inscription says that the book is for “recording all you artsy-farsty ideas,” which has Aldo feeling a little concerned. He does not really want anyone to think of him as an artsy-fartsy kind of person, even though he really does like to draw.
   Not knowing what to put in the book, Aldo goes and asks his neighbor, Mr. Mot, for his opinion. Mr. Mot, being a word fanatic, thinks that Aldo should write as well as draw in his new book. Actually Aldo has already started doing this, so Mr. Mot’s suggestion isn’t that outrageous an idea.
   The summer vacation has started and Aldo is all set to laze about and do what a ten-year-old boy who hates sports is supposed to do during the summer vacation. Then his mother announces that she has signed Aldo up for summer baseball. Aldoo throws a fit, but this has no impact on his parents whatsoever. Aldo, the boy who hates to do anything physical, is going to have to do baseball.
   The pain of having to do baseball is tempered a little bit by a mystery. Aldo leaves his new sketchbook in his tree hideout while he is at baseball, and when he retrieves the book, he sees that someone has drawn in it. Who would do such a thing? Since the drawing is flowery in nature, Aldo and his friend Jack are convinced that the culprit is a girl, and they set about trying to find out which girl did the drawings. The problem is that Jack and Aldo generally ignore girls, so they have no idea which of the neighborhood girls would do a thing like this. Will they catch her in the act if they hide near the tree, or will they have to do something more sneaky?
   This funny and realistic summer vacation tale will delight readers who like stories that are presented in a journal style format. Aldo’s observations about himself, his friends, his family members, and the world in general are deliciously amusing. Readers who have their own (perhaps ambivalent) artistic aspirations will find Aldo’s artsy fartsy adventures quite revealing.
   This is the first title in what promises to be a splendid series of books.

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