Books by Cheryl Ware

VENOLA IN LOVE by Cheryl Ware
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

In this sequel to Catty-Cornered (1998), Venola is now in the second half of seventh grade and has become quite boy-crazy. Although she's never had a boyfriend, she has purchased a journal with the hope that something exciting will happen so that she might write about it. Well, lo and behold, a new hunky guy, Nathan, enters her school and thus becomes the primary topic of Venola's journal entries. The most interesting aspect of this book is the format; the story unfolds through e-mails, journal entries and class notes, which the reader experiences entirely from Venola's point of view. No responses are ever seen. There are a few diversions from Venola's obsession with Nathan and her efforts to capture him: she discovers two of her friends are shoplifting and that her parents are going to have yet another baby (they already have 6 children!). By the end, Nathan reveals himself to be rather dull and to have a smoking habit. Venola thinks she might have a crush on someone else. The story closes with worthy food for thought: "Could it be that I just wanted to be IN LOVE, and that was more important than the WHO?" Overall, in spite of the interesting format, Venola's story is insipid and uninspiring. (line drawings) (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1998

``This is the journal of Venola Mae Cutright,'' begun the week after her much-feared Granddad has died, and maintained during her seventh-grade year while she adjusts to sleeping overnight, every night, in her lonely grandmother's trailer home (a ``brand-new, two-bedroom one, with avocado green carpet, curtains, and appliances'') that resides in the Cutright backyard. Among the many problems Venola Mae has with this arrangement are her grandmother's 13 cats, from whom she inherits a case of the fleas. With a wicked sense of humor, Venola Mae holds her own, despite her numerous insecurities, as it becomes increasingly clear that Grandma can no longer fend for herself. Neither Ware (Sea Monkey Summer, 1996) nor Yalowitz—in his comic black-and-white drawings that pepper the journal—strain credibility in portraying this as the work of a 12-year-old girl; Venola Mae's voice is consistently winning, even when she is exhaustively cataloging her fears and annoyances, the small injustices, doubts, and occasional moments of compassion that beset her. (Fiction. 9-13) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1996

A humorous, occasionally uneven epistolary novel from a promising new author records the adventures of Venola Mae Cutright, 11, of Belington, West Virginia. She writes to her best friend (away at camp) about her summer job as a paper carrier, her fights with her brothers, trials with warts, and a new friend, elderly Miss Wilma Facemeir, who lives over the local funeral home. Venola also corresponds with the circulation manager of her newspaper and the complaint department of the novelty company whose overpriced ``sea monkeys'' (actually brine shrimp) Venola unsuccessfully tries to hatch and raise. (Readers unfamiliar with the misleading magazine ads for these creatures may be mystified.) The plot is little more than a string of comic episodes, interrupted near the end by Miss Wilma's diatribe against mortuary practices, which is in startling contrast to the light tone elsewhere. The local color is laid on a bit thickly and stereotypically at times, and Venola's lapses in grammar and spelling are sometimes more contrivance than childlike. Beyond that, Venola is a fresh, funny heroine and Miss Wilma is the kind of outrageous, earthy old lady every child needs for a friend at least once. (Fiction. 9-12) Read full book review >