Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Two ebullient novels from Australia showcase an unusually engaging heroine who has an equally unusual condition: Rowena Batts, the new girl in school, can't speak. As she explains in a letter to her new classmates at the start of Blabber Mouth, ``I was born with some bits missing from my throat. Apart from that, I'm completely normal.'' Longing for a friendly overture and having been humiliated straight away by the class bully, Rowena expects (correctly) that even greater embarrassment awaits her at the hands of her widowed father, an eccentric with a flair for making a spectacle of himself. In the sequel, Sticky Beak, Rowena's kind teacher, Ms. Dunning, has married Rowena's father and is pregnant. Rowena fears she'll be replaced in their affections by a more perfect sibling. Gleitzman (Two Weeks with the Queen) shows his comedic talent in both stories while also conveying Rowena's occasional, wrenching frustrations. Rowena's circumstances may be very particular, but her brio in surmounting an almost universal set of fears should win a wide audience indeed. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-6Rowena Batts has an inborn disability that renders her incapable of speaking. She lives with her good-natured father, a loud, flamboyant, country-and-western fan known as the most successful apple farmer in Australia. She was formerly enrolled in a special school where she grew adept at sign language, but now the girl and her father have moved to a new town, and she attends public school. There, her muteness and her comical surname make her an easy target for the class bully, Darryn Peck. She is delighted when Amanda Cosgrove makes overtures of friendship, until Amanda divulges that she is trying to fulfill a community service project to help the ``disadvantaged.'' Never losing her sense of humor, Rowena recovers to take on her own service project when her outrageously dressed father behaves embarrassingly in front of her teacher. Amanda proves to be an ally after all as Rowena concocts a plan to reform her father by hiring Darryn's brother to fly his plane above the PTA barbecue and skywrite a cautionary message: ``Pull your head in, Dad.'' She makes her point that her Dad is sometimes more of an affliction than her muteness. Gleitzman has created a plucky heroine, and readers will enjoy this light, first-person, humorous tale with an Australian tang.Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 6-8. Rowena Batts was born "with some bits missing from my throat." Mute but not speechless, she refuses to be looked on as someone who needs to be somebody's community service project. In this novel, Gleitzman lets readers know that Ro is a blabbermouth, whether she's talking with her hands to her dad, or talking inside her head to readers. The author delivers a strong description of adolescent discomfort, with a couple of extra factors thrown in--among them, Ro's eccentric, loving father, an apple farmer who likes loud cowboy shirts. Readers won't spend time thinking about the sadness of being mute. Instead, they'll concentrate on how embarrassing parents can be and on the difficulties of going to a new school. Some of the Australian terms won't be familiar, but there's such a nice flow to the story, young people will discover that it's certainly possible to enjoy a book without knowing the meaning of all the words. (Reviewed May 01, 1995)015200369XMary Harris Veeder
Horn Book Review
Rowena Batts, the new girl at school, can't speak because of a birth defect. She also has a father who fancies startling clothing and sings songs whenever and wherever he feels like it. Typical of a new-kid-at-school story, there are a school bully, an understanding teacher, and a tentative friendship. The first-person narrative is fast-paced and lets the reader inside Ro's thoughts and reactions. From HORN BOOK 1995, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
A humorous novel from Australia starring a well-meaning heroine who is tempestuous and larger-than-life--and who was born mute. Rowena Batts's inability to speak doesn't stop her from talking up a storm. She uses sign language for those who understand, carries a pad to write notes to those who don't, and her actions are especially expressive when she is angry--for example, when she stuffs a frog into the class bully's mouth, then tapes it shut. Her only real problem is her father and his penchant for embarrassing her in public. She survives his singing to her in school and dating her teacher, but when he gets into a food fight with her best friend's father at a community meeting, she decides she must do something drastic. In the first-person narration, Ro's constant complaints about her father wear thin, but she remains likable; Gleitzman (Misery Guts, 1993, etc.) writes in a direct, charming style and short (often one sentence) paragraphs that makes these easy-to-read misadventures extra appealing. (Fiction. 8-12)