Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Big One-Oh, by Dean Pitchford, as reviewed by Freaky

Not a brand new book, but one featured in the Scholastic Book Fair, which is going on at our library right now. I picked it up for a light read, and quickly became one of those annoying readers who keeps laughing out loud, but then tells people they have to read the whole book to understand!

Charley is a character many of us can identify with. Okay, maybe we aren't all afraid of birthday parties, and we don't generally answer the door crying and wearing a hairnet. We have all had times, though, when we felt a little out of place, a little lonely, and a lot like everything we try to do turns out completely wrong.

Charley is about to turn 10 - the "big one-oh" - and through a series of events ends up deciding to throw himself a birthday party. Some minor problems arise immediately - he has only been to one birthday party in his life, which turned out pretty badly. He has only vague ideas of what goes into a birthday party, but he does know you need friends to invite. That one would actually be a major problem, because he doesn't have any. No, this isn't one of those "gosh I had friends and didn't even realize it" stories, he really doesn't have any.

Mishaps abound as Charley sets out to make some friends, and ends up instead with a guest list out of a horror story - which just happens to be the theme he chooses for his party. The party...well, let's just say that part did not disappoint. I mean, it's not really a party until...but I can't tell you that part.

The other characters involved are sometimes stereotyped - the class bully, the drama queen teenage sister, the stressed-out single Mom - but they all have enough quirks to keep them real and interesting. Charley is real and endearing, as is the slightly odd neighbor Gary who he befriends. The book as a whole should appeal to both boys and girls, including those over the age of ten. There are plenty of disasters and groan-out-loud moments to appeal to the younger crowd, while some of the one-liners and familiar situations will appeal more to those who have 'been there, done that'. This would make an excellent read-together for fathers and sons.

Planning a birthday yourself? Check this site out for thousands of ideas:

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