THE WENDY PUZZLE by Florence Parry Heide


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Heide loses her light touch in this conscientious story about ""Wendy the witch,"" a once-kind older sister now seen by narrator Dodie as a constant crab--hassling the neighbors for spraying their yard and the grocer for selling adulterated foods, outraged st being assigned to debate for nuclear power, upsetting the family dinner night after night with accusations that her parents, especially her father, refuse to confront the world's environmental problems. In contrast Dad believes in living an honest life, making things work, and minding his own business. Heide's own attitude is hinted st early on when Dad, on a lazy day off, rocks with little Cissy ""whose thumb was now in her mouth. And she'd been almost over the thumb sucking routine. Maybe if I was in Dad's lap, rocking, I'd start sucking my thumb again, too."" As Wendy continues her shrill diatribes, Dodie, who has round some torn-up love poems in Wendy's wastebasket, tries to guess who it is that is making Wendy so unhappy: The popular boy at her high school? Her debating partner? Her teacher? The grocery manager? Or, God forbid (for Dodie also likes him), the nice older boy from the friendly local snack shop? Dodie bas just discovered that it is none of the above, but the world itself, that Wendy is in love with--when a nearby chemical spill necessitates the evacuation of the entire town. And so, presumably, Wendy was right--but this clincher comes as such an arbitrary contrivance that it's unpersuasive as propaganda; and the whole one-dimensional story is flat as fiction.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Holiday House