Published: August 1st, 2011
E-copy: received for review
Charlie Woodchuck is the most minor of niners. She’s the youngest girl at Snowy Cove High School, and so clueless, she wore leg warmers and acid-wash jeans on her first day. Big mistake! Almost as big a mistake as signing up for a boys-only shop class.
Just when she thinks the first week of high school can't get any weirder, Charlie discovers she may be adopted. According to the genetics section in her Science textbook, her eyes should be blue, not brown.
Before she graduates from the ninth grade, the girl with the boy's name and the wrong eye color will have to use her detective skills to discover her true identity. She'll use power tools to build fantastical wood creations, and before the year ends, she'll have to face down the biggest bullies of all: the all-powerful members of Snowy Cove’s School Board.
Charlie Woodchuck was just so much fun to read, I loved it so much. It is a really short, quick read, I read it in about 3 hours, but I had a smile on my face most of the time. When I wasn't smiling my heart was aching for Charlie.
The story is set in small town USA and it is basically a regular school story, but what sets this one apart is that the year is 1988. No cell phones or computers and lots of campy references to bands like Pink Floyd and tv shows like The Cosby Show. I guess it says something about my age that I remember them very clearly.
Charlaine, 'Charlie', is such a wonderful character. With a birthday in December, she is the youngest kid in the new gr 9 class. She has an absolute heart of gold and I just wanted to hug her. Talk about rooting for the underdog - I loved that she was not afraid to speak her mind and stick up for those being bullied. She is also struggling with accepting the idea that she has probably been adopted. Her parents are just wonderful, and while I didn't always agree with the way they answered Charlie's questions, they were always caring and supportive. Stacy and Kendra, Charlie's friends at school were so different and yet both appealing in their own way. Stacy is a real drama queen and Kendra is one of the 'smart' girls, but both are good friends to Charlie. On the boys side, Otter, Ross and Sky were so well written I kept comparing them to friends of mine when I was that age.
'Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner' is a perfect middle-grade novel that introduces the idea that it is ok sometimes to fight for change, and you'll laugh and cry with Charlie and her friends as they navigate their way through high school and the pitfalls of grade 9. Lots of fun and well worth the read.