In 1959, a spunky 12-year-old decides to make some money to buy a Barbie doll by writing to her Senator's beautiful wife, Jackie Kennedy, in this truly funny debut novel. Abby wants to be a fashion designer and has concocted some lovely ensembles for Jackie just in case Senator Kennedy decides to run for President. She charges only a few cents for each design. But will Jackie reply to Abby? Meanwhile, Abby's extended family creates comedy and drama, while Abby avoids her uncaring father and her apparently unfeeling mother, who appears mostly to be concerned with maintaining the traditions of their Eastern European Jewish origins. Abby also greatly regrets a nasty trick she plays on her elderly neighbors, who just might not be witches, as her Aunt believes. Axelrod emphasizes the comedy while building up to some heartfelt drama. Young readers will appreciate the author's decision to reveal the fallibility of the adults in Abby's life. Abby's earnest letters to Jackie, with numerous postscripts and enclosed fashion drawings (not seen), stand out as especially sweet. Abby is an especially memorable protagonist, but all her characters vibrate with life. The 1959 suburban Massachusetts environment comes across beautifully as well. Axelrod takes the narrative up to November 1961, with no hint of the later assassination. Funny, lively, sensitive—a real winner. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
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