________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 14 . . . . March 7, 2008


Zibby Payne & the Party Problem. (Zibby Payne Series).

Alison Bell.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2008.
92 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 978-1-897073-69-8.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.

*** /4


“Why me?” Zibby wailed, burying her head in her hands.

It was 10:30 on Saturday morning and she’d already wasted two hours trying to come up with the Perfect Party Plan with no success. Every idea she thought of stunk, from charades (too cheesy) to Twister (too boring) to scavenger hunts (been done a million times). She even Googled “fun party games,” but they were all Total Stinkers too. Like the “Extreme Version of Truth or Dare” where the dares include sticking your hand in the toilet or eating a cube of butter. Gross! Or the “Crazy Egg” game where players smash hard boiled eggs on their foreheads. But the joke is that some eggs are raw. Ha, ha, thought Zibby, real funny. Then there was the “Life Saver” game, where teams pass Life Savers back and forth to each other - using only their lips. Yeah, like that might happen!

She needed help, and she needed it fast.

Zibby’s party problems are piling up, but, no matter what, Zibby is NOT going to be like Amber. There will be no tears because of her party, and everyone is going to be invited!

     Silver glitter and special coupons don’t spill out of everyone’s pink invitations. Zibby, Sarah, Lyla and Grace are just a few of the grade six girls who receive empty birthday invitations from Amber. Zibby remembers Amber’s parties used to be fun, and she had happy memories of them. At the Goldfish Gala, everyone invited went home with a goldfish, and last year’s restaurant party had chefs cooking food right at the tables. Amber’s latest party isn’t so wonderful though. This party is excluding friends, and it involves wearing dresses, dancing to music and listening to boy bands. And it’s not just Amber’s party that Zibby is angry about. Savannah is having a birthday party, too, but with secretive sleepovers. Realizing these latest parties are making her friends feel
upset and left out, Zibby decides to throw her own party. Her party will be fun, and it won’t exclude anyone!

     Unfortunately, many things go wrong at Zibby’s party, and it’s nothing duct tape or fish sticks can save. Zibby’s party for 24 people turns into a party for over 34 people. Her invitation list grows and grows as she adds people she overlooked. Franny and Vanessa are now coming (along with Vanessa’s two cousins), and so is the entire boy’s soccer team! Zibby starts to worry. She believes these people will ruin her party. Not wanting to be embarrassed or to invite trouble to her party, Zibby makes a big mistake and does something she will come to regret.

     Zibby does try to keep her heart in the right place. She wants to make people happy, and she wants to live by her beliefs and values. But in Zibby Payne & the Party Problem, Zibby learns her judgment isn’t always the best. She judges her friends too hastily, she lies to her classmates, and she angers her best friend. Despite the setbacks, Zibby’s plan to throw a party for those who were overlooked, crushed, or downright rejected by Amber and Savannah does end in success. And no one is more surprised than Zibby to see who saves the party and how they save it!

     Zibby Payne would make a good friend. She is not afraid to correct what is wrong or to speak her mind. At the same time though, she still worries about appearing foolish or failing in front of others. She is a character who makes mistakes and wrong choices, but young readers will connect with her because she is dealing with problems today’s youth face. Alison Bell understands the problems tweens are facing today and the struggles they might have with decision making and choices.

     Alison Bell remembers what its like to be a sixth grade girl. Her stories deal with the wonderful and the not so wonderful parts of being 12. She writes about the problems that arise in a girl’s life but resolves them in a way readers will believe and even laugh about. In addition to writing the “Zibby Payne Series,” Alison Bell is the author of the “What’s Your Style” series. She lives in California.


Tanya Boudreau is a Youth Services Librarian and Resource 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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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.