Books by Doug Cooney

LEADING LADIES by Marlee Matlin
Released: Nov. 6, 2007

Megan Merrill would be satisfied to do any kind of solo for her fourth-grade class, even a polka, until her teacher and a musical-theater specialist team up to organize a musical version of The Wizard of Oz. There's a fierce competition for the part of Dorothy, complicated by her best friend at camp vying for it, but Megan's creativity and personality win her the part. Though Megan is a fully developed, likable character and is exciting, not everything is. Her family and friends are foils supporting her; their motivations are dim. When the Merrills' new family dog, Solo, gets on stage as Toto, his ability to bark in rhythm to a comic musical routine is not believable despite intense short-term practice. Other characters, such as Cindy, who've been developed in the series, are shadowy here, so reading the series in order is recommended. It's Megan and her feelings about being deaf in a mainstream world that offer insight to the majority of readers: Those who are hearing will understand more of the complexities of growing up deaf in a hearing society, and those who are deaf will recognize themselves. This rare glimpse into the life of a child growing up deaf is an invaluable contribution to juvenile fiction. Seeing Megan again in print as a fifth-grader would be a pleasure. (Fiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
NOBODY’S PERFECT by Marlee Matlin
Released: June 1, 2006

Celebrating deafness and a unique character, Matlin brings back Megan from Deaf Child Crossing (2002), returning full tilt from summer camp, ready to invite every girl in her fourth-grade to her perfectly purple birthday party, everyone except Alexis, the new girl who appears to abhor deafness. Alexis's apparent, callous rudeness challenges Megan not to rush to judgment, but to follow her family's strong influence to gather facts and not react to feelings alone. She uses all her talents, control and charm to be caring of Alexis as a human being, and by torturously pushing aside easy anger, Megan wins the truth and discovers Alexis's personal motivation: an unsettled relationship with an autistic brother. The miracle that she brings to Alexis's family is worth all the suffering. Megan is all purple feathers, glitter and friend, endearingly sincere with an intense energy that explodes with action on the page, shaking her world with an internal struggle worthy of a heroine. Heads above the companion volume. (Fiction. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2004

In this amiable, and considerably superior, sequel to The Beloved Dearly (2002), friends fall apart, then draw back together in school, on the baseball field—and in charm school. Socked with a series of whammies, from a fly ball in the face to an anonymous love note in his backpack, from the news that the Central Comets' star pitcher Swimming Pool is off the team unless she can pass a charm school course, to the sight of his widowed dad dancing in the living room with the Cat Lady from down the street, self-appointed team manager Ernie has a lot on his plate. Fortunately, he also has smarts, a generous measure of common sense, and a world-class gift of gab—all of which is stretched to the limit when Swimming Pool, despite good intentions, flunks out. Climaxed by a dazzlingly ingenious costume party and played out by a cast of teasing, but never mean-spirited preteens, plus a few grownups who actually have a clue, this mild but relentless farce will keep young readers solidly entertained from first page to last. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

Recast from a prizewinning stage production, this patchy tale of a young entrepreneur has a satiric edge that will play better to adult audiences. Ever on the lookout for moneymaking opportunities, young Ernie Castellano hits paydirt when he converts an empty lot into a pet cemetery. Thanks to some high pressure sales tactics, plus a hired staff than includes Dusty, a nerdy but loyal artist with a genius for turning junk into elaborately decorated coffins; Swimming Pool, quaintly introduced as a "tomboy," who discovers an innate talent for feeling a bereaved pet owner's pain; and Tony, a "scrappy" eight-year-old boy-with-a-shovel, the funeral biz is soon booming. It's not hard to see this show's theatrical roots in the thoroughly typecast characters and in snappy, Little Rascals-style dialogue (Tony: " ‘It's not complicated. When I got a gig, I gotta dig. That's my motto. I'm an independent contractor' ") that Cooney's interpolated narrative passages only serve to slow down. Most of all there's a string of stagy set pieces that end with Ernie and his Dad both grieving in the wake of Ernie's Mom's death from cancer, growing closer by decorating the grave of the family dog together. Young readers are unlikely to give this a standing ovation, but the broadly brushed comedy and sentiment may draw an occasional chuckle or tear. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >