Books by Carol Sonenklar

MIGHTY BOY by Carol Sonenklar
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

PLB 0-531-33203-9 A silly, but ultimately satisfying story of wish-fulfillment, in which Sonenklar (My Own Worst Enemy, p. 727, etc.) perfectly captures a middle grader's obsession with fantasy heroes. Small for his age, often bullied, new kid Howard is thrilled when he wins a contest to attend a taping of his favorite TV show, "Mighty Boy." Even though he knows that Mighty Boy is played by an actor, Howard is nevertheless shocked to find that the actor has none of the hero's qualities. When the two boys get lost in the woods, Howard's camping skills, learned from his father entirely offstage, save the day. Sonenklar is deft in limning Howard's preoccupation with Mighty Boy: he dreams about him at night, daydreams during class, and, even in the presence of the (and initially not very nice) boy, can't quite grasp the idea that none of it is real. The dangerous way Howard deals with the bully when he returns to school (he smacks a beehive so that the bees attack his tormentor) lacks any sort of warning; otherwise this is a funny and enjoyable novel. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
MY OWN WORST ENEMY by Carol Sonenklar
Released: May 15, 1999

A nonconformist teenager changes her style to fit into the Barbie-wannabe clique at a new school. Though Eve does it to please her parents, readers will wonder why she bothers; her mother, a traveling saleswoman, is seldom home, and thanks to a slovenly older brother and a radically clueless, unemployed father, she lives in a filthy shambles of unfinished home improvement projects. Interrupting her narrative for long rants ("I think it's totally unfair that girls have to worry so much about how they look") that become the basis of a teen column in the local paper, Eve recounts her efforts to cultivate class queen Lisle while keeping her embarrassing home life secret; the plotline is never more than a pretext, however, for introducing adult and young adult women trying on—comfortably for the most part—conventional gender roles and expectations. Most of the characters remain opaque; Sonenklar sends conflicting signals about whether Eve's mother is deliberately staying away or not, and gives readers no help understanding why her father would refuse to inquire about a promising job opportunity. In the end, Lisle invites herself over, and Eve's subsequent banishment from the fashion plate circle gives her a chance to wear old clothes and gain instant acceptance from arty social outsiders in her class. Lacking in the humor and imagination of Bug Boy (1997) and Bug Girl (1998), this is likely to leave readers more puzzled by its ambiguities than intrigued by issues it raises. (Fiction. 11-14) Read full book review >
BUG GIRL by Carol Sonenklar
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

In this sequel to Bug Boy (1997), Charlie is still obsessed with insects, and is using his magic Bug-A-View with enthusiastic abandon, despite its obvious dangers, to transform himself into a variety of bugs. When he decides to tell his best friend, Suzanne, about it, her reaction is not what he'd expected; she is horrified at the danger and wants no part of it. But when Charlie, as a beetle, is captured and about to be killed and pinned, Suzanne turns herself into an ant to rescue him. This lacks the freshness of the original, but has all the action and suspense, with the nice addition of the girl's rescue of a boy, for a change, through bravery and physical strength. Charlie's reckless and thoughtless use of his magical toy is wearing; readers will welcome Suzanne's decision to bury the Bug-A-View at the end. The cartoon illustrations keep pace with the text, especially the cover illustration, which appears to be Suzanne's first horrified moments as an ant. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
BUG BOY by Carol Sonenklar
ANIMALS
Released: April 1, 1997

A charming fantasy that's easy to read, about a third-grade boy—Charlie—whose passion for insects has earned him the nickname ``Bug Boy.'' Charlie discovers that the Bug-a-View magnifier he's been given will turn him into any insect he places in the viewer. After turning into a spider and grasshopper, and nearly getting stuck as a fly permanently, he decides it is too dangerous to use. But when he loses a friend's valuable bombardier beetle at school, he turns himself into a spider to find it. Turning into an insect is a fantasy that children will find unusual and thrilling, and this one has a plot that fairly rockets along. Laced with humor and entomological details, this is perfect for reluctant readers, and for reading aloud. Lewin's black-and-white illustrations fit the story nicely, although Charlie's appearance fluctuates and he sometimes looks too young. Funny, buggy, fact- filled—readers will be clamoring for more. (Fiction. 8-11) Read full book review >