Like most of the kids in grades four through six in her school, Mallory’s thrilled to hear they’re going to have six weeks of arts electives—until she is assigned the tuba. What’s a girl to do?
Mallory and her classmates can choose among orchestra, drama, ballet or band—Mallory’s third choice. When the dreaded day arrives, Ms. Anderson inexplicably assigns Mallory to play tuba, in spite of her very strong desire to play anything else—not the best way to inspire enthusiasm for musical instruments! Mallory hates it from the first and is caught up in envy of her friends who got their top-choice electives and in embarrassment for the terrible sounds emerging from the tuba. It’s all made worse by her distaste for practice. Naturally, things eventually all work out for the best. Many readers of early chapter books will already be familiar with Mallory since this is the 20th in the series. Slightly stylized but nonetheless evocative black-and-white illustrations accompany the relatively simple text. Mallory’s first-person narration offers an amusing take on her difficult situation but lacks the spirited depth of voices such as Amber Brown’s and Clementine’s. Perhaps due to Mallory’s primarily female audience, all of the dance participants are “ballerinas”; how odd to eliminate the male students from this choice.
Readers of the series will probably eagerly scoop up another somewhat vanilla-flavored entry. (Fiction. 8-11)