________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 26 . . . . March 9, 2012


Off the Wall. (Sports Stories).

Camilla Reghelini Rivers.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
151 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55277-841-8.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

*** /4



The ride back from Foods was weird. All the kids sat together in the rear of the bus. Usually we sat in small groups scattered throughout the vehicle.

"That was great soup, wasn't it?" said Angie, blowing a lock of her rusty hair off her forehead.

There was a general murmur of agreement.

"How about you, Lizzie? Did you like the boy's stuff?" Pam asked.

"Yeah, it was fine."

The kids around us started to snigger.

"All right. What gives?" I grabbed Pam's arm and shook it.

"What? What?" She gave me this innocent look.

The sniggering turned to guffaws.

I leaned forward and brought my face close to hers-my brown eyes boring onto her. "Tell-me-now."

Pam recoiled. She reached into her pocket, pulled out some gum and offered it to me.

"I said
now, Pam. And I don't want your gum."

"Oh, Lizzie. Like, you really do. They're for bad breath, 'kay?" Brock put half a bottle of garlic powder in their soup."

The kids rolled with laughter.

Lizzie is finally in grade seven, and she hopes this will be a different year. She is facing all of the usual teenage angst. She and her mom don't see eye to eye. She feels so plain and just average, especially when her younger sister is cute, smart and good at everything. She seems to outshine Lizzie in every area, and now she is playing the same sport, soccer, that Lizzie plays. Soccer is Lizzie's life, the one thing she is really good at, the one thing that gives her confidence. And then there's Brock. Good looking and smart, but really weird, Brock seems to get a great deal of pleasure out of teasing Lizzie. And, his teasing always brings out the worst in her. Her response puzzles her, but she just can't get control when he plays his little tricks.

      Lizzie and her top notch soccer team are looking forward to the Snicker's Tournament. She is so excited about the challenge until she finds out that her little sister's team will be put up into their division and will also be playing. They are unbeatable in their division and need a challenge, but these elementary students are so small compared to the other teams. How can the coach and parents allow this? They may be good, but someone will get hurt. And that is exactly what happens.

      Camilla Reghelini Rivers has written a thoughtful story about the difficulties of being a teenager. Her main character, Lizzie, is facing all of the normal uncertainties of this period of her life and, as with most teens, having a younger sibling can pose an extra challenge. Teen readers can sympathize with Lizzie and see themselves in this high spirited character. The pages contain comedy, tears and the wonder of finding a new friend. This story also portrays a family that sticks together and works through problems together, though Lizzie definitely does not feel that she is dealt with fairly. Real life!


Elaine Fuhr, a retired elementary and middle school teacher, lives in BC.

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

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