Sunday, May 2, 2010

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

"I don't know how long Jessica will be with us, but I want you to be prepared. Her burns are... she does not look like... anyone you have ever seen before... Mrs. Tracy's voice caught and faded away for a second. Some of the kids seemed to get stiff in their seats. Others began shuffling things around on their desks. I felt nervous, as if I had been caught doing something wrong."

From this moment on, life is never quite the same for Tom and his seventh-grade classmates. They learn that Jessica has been in a fire and was badly burned, and will be attending St. Catherine's while getting medical treatments. Despite her horrifying appearance and the fear she evokes in him and most of the class, Tom slowly develops a tentative friendship with Jessica that changes his life.

I was surprised by this book. I didn't expect to be disappointed, but I was. The characters are flat and one dimensional-- I'm pretty certain students will have trouble keeping interest in these characters, which is really unfortunate because the story could have been a great one. The story, the format (short chapters, short length) are all there, but the characters fall short. Totally surprised this won the SCBWI award.

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