CHARLOTTE CHEETHAM: Master of Disaster by Barbara Ware Holmes

CHARLOTTE CHEETHAM: Master of Disaster

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A first novel, a chapter book, about the need for acceptance and attention from one's peers and family. Ten-year-old Charlotte is the youngest of three daughters, the bright but distracted child of an overachieving mother. Charlotte feels tortured by her sisters, unwanted by her peers and misunderstood by the world, especially her mother the scientist. Desperation leads the girl, who has an inventive imagination, to uncontrollable lying--tall tales pop from her mouth practically before she realizes they're forthcoming. Charlotte's continual lying, even to her only and very patient friend Annie, serves, of course, to alienate her further from the people whose friendship and respect she most desires. Salvation of sorts comes in the form of a stray kitten, whom Charlotte adopts and names Pippi after her favorite fictional character. Pippi's typical cat-behavior in the Cheetham home leads Charlotte's parents to introduce their youngest to the word ""eccentric"" and suddenly Charlotte learns to think of herself as wonderfully different instead of weird. Her self-image problems are solved when her father, an artist, suggests that she become a writer, thereby giving our young heroine an outlet for her active imagination. Having learned from her mother (who's not so bad after all) that she must face up to the consequences of her actions, Charlotte forges ahead with the necessary apologies and all is right with the world. While Holmes tells her story with some mild humor, Charlotte isn't very likeable and evokes no sympathy. Though the book's title promises more excitement than it delivers, the author writes with some style and shows promise. John Himmelman's black-and-white illustrations provide an amusing and upbeat interpretation.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row