________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 8 . . . .December 8, 2006


Zibby Payne & the Wonderful, Terrible Tomboy Experiment.

Alison Bell.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2006.
96 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-897073-39-9.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4



Zibby threw the high-tops on her bed, then paced worriedly about her room. She had a clean pair of jeans to wear to dinner, but most of her T-shirts were in the wash. The only two that were clean were the oldest and rattiest ones Anthony has given her –– a green one so faded it almost looked white, and a red baseball jersey with a rip in one sleeve.

“I don’t think Grandma Betty would appreciate me wearing either of these,” she said to herself.

She dug into her dirty clothes hamper, and smelled the T-shirts one by one under the arms. Unless she wanted to suffocate everyone at the table with “Eau d’ Zibby,” she couldn’t wear any of them either.

“What am I going to do?” she asked herself, tapping her foot nervously.


Zibby and her “Absolute Best Friend on the Entire Planet,” Sarah, like to wear their shoes a little differently than everyone else. They are now sixth graders, and they have prepared for the first day of school together by organizing their binders the night before. At school the next morning, they say hello to each other with their secret greeting. However, Zibby is in for a shock. Two mini-skirted, make-up wearing girls join them. Zibby knew her friends, Amber and Camille, as girls who used to dress like herself and Sarah. Besides this fashion-shock courtesy of Camille and Amber, Zibby comes to learn that now Amber and Camille like to do hair and nails at recess, and they like to talk about boys. To make matters worse, Sarah doesn’t appear to mind.

     There is only so much Zibby can take. She finds a way to have “The Very Best Recess” of her life. She does enjoy this time, despite the fact that many things are not making sense to her lately. Math is hard now, her 15-year-old brother Anthony has a girlfriend, and her best friend Sarah is starting to change. Sarah now wears lip gloss, and she’s enjoying Camille and Amber’s boy conversations! Zibby is definitely not having the “best year ever.”

      To save what’s left of sixth grade, Zibby decides to become a “Total Tomboy.” Soon she has a pile of frilly clothes ready for donation. She’s holding tomboy tryouts (in the school bathroom) for her new Tomboy Club, and she chops some hair off her head. Facing these changes, Zibby finds herself feeling more alone than ever. Fortunately, she confesses to her mom, listens to her dad’s advice, and accepts help from her brother and his girlfriend. However, Zibby is especially happy when she comes into possession of new, green shoes.

      Although Zibby does have a “Big Revelation” or two about boys while being a tomboy, she ultimately learns how to be herself. Now, Zibby is ready to start her new club!

      This is the first book in the Zibby Payne series. The author thinks of herself as a tomboy, and, in creating Zibby, she was inspired by her own daughter’s antics. Alison Bell has written a nonfiction series for young girls called “What’s Your Style?” which include the books Let’s Party and Fearless Fashion.

     Zibby wants to be with friends with whom she can relate, and she wants to be herself around these friends! She does make mistakes, and she does rush some decisions, but she’s also learning to deal with life’s snags. Young girls can learn from Zibby Payne.


Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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