SONIA BEGONIA by Joanne Rocklin


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Rocklin's first novel centers around 11-year-old Sonia Begley, who longs to be as talented a businessperson as her parents and her big brother Tony, even though planning and efficiency don't come easily to Sonia. Nevertheless, she resolves to start her own business over the summer and do it ""in an orderly, efficient way."" What results is ""S.S.S.S.--Sonia's Safety Sentinel Service, a house-watching service for vacationers,"" an idea that occurs to her after the Begleys' home is burglarized while they're away for a weekend. But S.S.S.S. is beset with one problem after another. First, the Begleys disapprove of Sonia's going into empty houses by herself, so Sonia is forced to take on an associate, Jason. Then Sonia has trouble advertising her new venture. When she finally does get her first clients, the plants she must tend begin to die, and then disaster strikes: Sonia's ""safety"" service actually causes the Russells' house to be robbed. Fortunately, it also leads to the capture of the thieves. Devastated at first, Sonia is helped by her understanding parents to see how she can learn from her mistakes, and she comes through the ordeal, if not unscathed, at least brimming over with ideas for future businesses. Gentle humor, likable characters, and believable relationships make this quick read very enjoyable. Sonia's special friendship with an elderly but thoroughly unstereotyped and entertaining neighbor provides a nice touch. If there is a flaw in the book, it's that Sonia and Jason are a bit too glib for their years, and Sonia's handling of a little girl for whom she babysits is more that of an experienced teacher than an 11-year-old. But overall, a neatly turned story. Kids will want to see more from Rocklin.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1986
Publisher: Macmillan