THE PICKLE SONG by Barthe DeClements


Age Range: 8 - 11
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 DeClements tackles homelessness from an unusual angle: her protagonist, Paula, becomes friends with a girl living with her mother in a parked car. Sukey does her best to hide the truth from Paula and others at school, where she's fraudulently enrolled. But Paula, still reconciling herself to her parents' divorce, yearns for a new friend, especially after she hears Sukey sing and play a guitar. Once the waiflike Sukey gets over her initial wariness, she shares some new skills, such as pawning valuables and burrowing through dumpsters for food. Things improve for Sukey when her mother gets a temporary job and living quarters with Paula's neighbor (Sukey moves into Paula's room); then her father sends word that he has a job, and money for them to join him. The author tries to keep realism front and center, but it's continually inflated by wild hopes and wishful thinking; the outcome for homeless families is rarely so quick or so promising. And Paula, whose first-person narration never offers much insight, emerges mostly as a device for showcasing Sukey's woes. Readers will want to like this ordinary cast of characters, facing problems right out of the headlines--but beyond the lessons, there's little to engage. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-670-85101-9
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993


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