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At 11, Martha is hoping to be discovered--again. No one remembers her in TV commercials at age five; she's now chubby, lonely, and a fibber. One day she opens a mysterious package to find a purple guitar and a lesson book, with more lessons promised for a mere $150.00. Her parents insist it's a seam, but Martha is sure it's her ticket back to fame and popularity. Secretly, she keeps the guitar and--with her upstairs neighbor, Winston--learns to play. At first, all the promises seem to come true: playing the guitar brings Martha out of her prepubescent shell and she finds that she really can entertain people. Her playing seems to improve her senile grandfather's memory, and even the more popular girls are impressed. But when her parents find out, everything falls apart: the girls dump her; she's estranged from Winston; and her grandfather relapses. Even so, it is he who finally helps Martha understand that the magic has been within her all along, rather than in the instrument. Though the story is pleasant, it does require some suspension of disbelief, e.g. at Martha's quick proficiency in learning to play and at the ease with which the popular girls are impressed. Still, the characters are likable, and many readers will recognize themselves in Martha.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1991
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Macmillan