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UNITED TATES OF AMERICA by Paula Danziger

UNITED TATES OF AMERICA

By Paula Danziger

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-590-69221-6
Publisher: Scholastic

Danziger (What a Trip, Amber Brown, 2001, etc.) breaks new ground with this amusing middle-school story illustrated in a novel way—with scrapbook art by the author done in the style of the sixth-grade narrator, Skate Tate. (Scrapbooking is the popular hobby of compiling photo albums and decorating the pages with stickers and special papers.) In diary-like fashion, Skate tells the story of her first stressful months at Biddle Middle School, when she must adjust to a long bus ride, a new building, different friends, and the sudden death of her adored globetrotting relative called GUM (the family nickname for Great-Uncle Mort). The first-person story is told in present tense, mainly in one-sentence paragraphs that approach stream-of-consciousness mode, supplemented with the addition of a few school assignments and scrapbook entries in different typefaces. Skate has lots of typical sixth-grade worries about her place at school and with her friend, but she has a solid, happy family life, and her wise great-uncle helps her with her self-confidence issues in some creative ways that support Skate’s budding talent as an artist. A 32-page, full-color insert of sample scrapbook pages shows photographs of Skate and her family and friends (using friends of the author for the models), including several pages detailing a family trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts. Danziger creates a believable, humorous world for Skate and her family, and GUM is a character anyone would love to have as a relative. The author’s scrapbook art may inspire readers to try crafting their own documentary pages. (Fiction. 9-11)