________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 7. . . .October 15, 2010.


How to Ruin Your Life and Other Lessons School Doesn’t Teach You.

Carolyn McTighe.
Calgary, AB: Red Deer Press, 2010.
109 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-0-88995-401-4.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Inderjit Deogun.





When Katie finally crossed the finish line, Ms. Watkins and a few of the girls ran over to her and began patting her on the back. I wanted to run over, too, but I still had a long way to go before I crossed the finish line. I was so proud of Katie. She had finally found something in gym class that she was good at! And that’s when it hit me. If Katie could beat me in a practice race, then she could probably beat me at the real thing, too. And if she could beat me at the real thing, then I wouldn’t be the fastest girl in the fourth grade anymore. And if I weren’t the fastest girl in the fourth grade anymore, then I wouldn’t win the first-place ribbon at the track meet next Tuesday. And if I didn’t win the first-place ribbon at the track meet next Tuesday, then Mom wouldn’t have anything to hang on the fridge. And if Mom didn’t have anything to hang on the fridge, then she wouldn’t have any reason to be proud of me.

Penelope Jane Parker — better known as P.J. — is the fastest girl in the fourth grade. She eagerly counts the days to the annual school track meet and the first-place blue ribbon she’s destined to win. That is until her best friend, Katie Brewer, beats her during a practice race.

     P.J. is devastated by this unexpected turn of events. Her jealousy gets the better of her, and she abruptly ends her friendship with Katie. Now, more determined than ever before, she’ll do just about anything to ensure victory, a decision that may just eliminate any chance P.J. has of reconciliation with her best friend.

     How to Ruin Your Life illustrates the competitive nature of young girls. Carolyn McTighe weaves humour into P.J.’s need to be victorious through both her incessant list making and her naivete. McTighe’s humourous touches accentuate even the last words of the story leaving readers with a smirk on their faces. How to Ruin Your Life is a good-natured tale that demonstrates what’s truly important in life.


Inderjit Deogun is currently pursuing a career in publishing in Toronto, ON, with a particular interest in children’s literature.

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

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