________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 22 . . . . June 22, 2007


The New and Improved Vivien Leigh Reid: Diva in Control.

Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout.
New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin (Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn), 2007.
231 pp., pbk., $11.95.
ISBN 978-0-312-35828-0.

Subject Headings:
Mothers and daughters-Juvenile fiction.
Remarriage-Juvenile fiction.
Interpersonal relations-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

*** /4


I open my eyes and blink into the bright lights.

"What do you think?" he prods.

I want to scream but my voice has turned to dust.

Horns. I have horns.

"Am I a .. A rhino?" I rasp.

"A rhino! How could you say that? A rhino has one large horn." He takes a paintbrush and counts out my horns. "One, two, three, four. What animal has four small horns?

"I shake my head and my long, narrow nose wags from side to side. "I don't know.

"This isn't a test I'd normally fail. Animals have been my life-long passion, and until I tried acting, I'd planned to become a vet one day. The prosthetics seem to be affecting my brain.

Reaching up, I poke the wrinkly gray bump at the end of my nose with one finger. It's rubbery and lifelike. "A wild boar?" I suggest.

"Close. A warthog." He fumbles around on his tray until he finds an odd-looking contraption with white crescents. "Your tusks, Effluvia."

I clench my jaws. "I am not wearing those. No way."Drake shakes his shaved head. "Just once I'd like to meet an actor who puts her craft before her vanity."

He offers the tusks again and this time, I open wide."


Vivien Leigh Reid is back in Hollywood and working on the set of the action-adventure series Freak Force. Fortunately, she has been studying yoga and is, therefore, far more calm and enlightened than she used to be! This 'new' Leigh needs all the serenity she possesses in her dealings with an all-male cast and her role as part human/part warthog. Doing difficult stunts in her ridiculous warthog costume is challenging, to say the least. Her problems continue at home where her zany actress-mother has moved in with her fiancé, Jake, thus exposing Leigh to two evil stepsisters who delight in tormenting and taunting her. On a personal level, Leigh is trying hard to get rid of the 'diva' image she acquired during her last acting job and is also endeavoring not to fall for one of her fellow actors.

     The New and Improved Vivien Leigh Reid is a continuation of the Vivien Leigh Reid series, and her fans are sure to enjoy the book. The novel can also stand on its own without reading the previous two volumes. Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout have continued the humour of their over-the-top characters who live in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. They are exaggerated, superficial, wacky and also irresistible!

     The novel will appeal to young adult readers, especially girls, who are interested in the world of entertainment and acting. The first-person narrative keeps the story lively and fresh, and occasional sections written as lines from a script add a change of pace and the sense of a fantasy world.

     Romance, relationships and the lure of 'showbiz' all come together to make this a fun-filled novel which seems almost like watching a TV sitcom. The series may never become 'classics,' but the books are funny and entertaining and will have definite appeal for young teen readers.


Ann Ketcheson, who lives in Ottawa, ON, is a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French. 


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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