CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 1. . . .October 5, 2010
Libby's Got the Beat. (Streetlights).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2010.
143 pp., pbk., $8.95.
Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.
Review by Dana L. Coates.
*** ½ /4
Non-essential subjects? What's he mean by that? Libby wondered. As parents raised their hands for the question and answer period, Libby tried to take her mind off the test by thinking about her and Etta and Celery's band. She wondered what they could play in addition to the Mozart minuet and "I Love Lovin,'" which Ms. Cattermole had helped them with.
How many tunes should a band be able to play?
And they still needed a name. What could they call themselves?
She was dimly aware of Professor Brayne again saying something about underachieving students.
"Mom's going to kill him if he calls us underachievers again," Etta whispered, digging her elbow into Libby's ribs.
"That's it!" Libby cried, smiling suddenly. "A perfect name for the band!"
Libby's Got the Beat is an impressive novel written by a male author! Robert Rayner has written a realistic story about the musical journey of Libby and her friends, Etta and Celery. In their attempt to form a band, nothing will stop them – not even parents not letting them practice at home or being short money for band outfits or failing tests in school. Just when the Underachievers think they have established their band, Professor Brayne shows up at school to cancel everything fun. He cancels all of the "non-essential subjects" and all of the after-school clubs to prepare them for their Math test that they must retake.
Rayner's characters are well described and are believable, typical middle grade students. Readers will feel like they are actually at the school and at the students' houses. The dialogue is also realistic. When the characters talk, it is like listening to what young teens would actually say. The plot is interesting as it moves along at a good pace. Even though the Underachievers are failing their Math test, they excel at solving Math problems during the development of the band. They are truly inspirational young people as they come up with a solution to the test that does not relate to them at all.
Dana L. Coates is a grade 6 teacher in Norway House, MB.
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