WHERE ARE YOU, COW PATTY? by Elizabeth-Ann Sachs
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Madcap Janie Tannenbaum and ethereal Courtney Schaeffer, the mutually-supportive scoliosis victims of Just Like Always (1982), haven't seen each other in the year-and-a-half since Janie was discharged from the hospital--and Janie's mother, at least, has trepidations about Courtney's impending visit. Little difficulties do arise--Janie is outdoorsy and reckless, Courtney is domestic and cautious--and a big problem does develop: Janie's pal-from kindergarten Harold, who's been wanting to practice (pre-junior high) at being her boyfriend, pairs up with Courtney, who's been wanting a first boyfriend. . . and for one miserable day, Janie feels excluded. But Sachs hasn't brought Janie and Courtney together simply to play-off personality types and set up a pre-teen triangle. Both girls are self-conscious about the long, lurid scars on their backs, and the stiffening rods inside (in a wonderful bedtime scene, each traces and describes the other's scar); though their magic-kingdom club is no more (says Janie), ""you and I have our own special club now."" Courtney makes a valiant attempt to learn to fish, Janie's passion; Janie agrees, with much reluctance, to let Courtney teach her to cook. (In Janie's ingratiating family, no body likes to cook.) And the problem of Harold is really the problem of junior high, of dating, of being a girl and staying a ""tomboy""--as Janie's mother says she did (""I just wanted to do other things too""). Acceptance is quietly achieved through the birth of a calf and a few timely words with her mother about childbirth and motherhood. Straightening things out with Courtney and Harold then comes naturally. It's light, involving, emotionally and psychologically resonant--with just the merest suggestion that teen-age is extra-fearful for kids who have ""something the matter"" with them.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Atheneum