Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Convinced that his separated parents have little chance of attracting new mates due to their advanced ages (36 and 37) and excess body fat, Keith, 13, the budding artist previously met in Misery Guts and Worry Warts, goes on an all-out campaign to make them over, or at least get them dates. His first effort-advertising them in realistic nude portraits at a school art exhibit-is spectacularly unsuccessful. And a mural with their idealized, swimsuit-clad figures on the side of a building in their South London neighborhood only causes the local travel agent to sell more beach holidays. But no matter: with his fearless best friend, Tracy, and her Aunty Bev, a Spandex-clad beautician, coming to visit from Australia, Keith figures he'll have his folks made over and dating in no time. However, things don't turn out as Keith had planned: Mum finds a boyfriend on her own; neither Dad's new look nor his romance with Bev suits him; and Bev is hounding Tracy mercilessly about getting fat. Everything comes out all right in the end, but not until Keith realizes that looks aren't everything. If the message Gleitzman conveys isn't wholly new, seldom has it been so gleefully and palatably presented. A punchy narrative, droll characters and original plot make this a real page-turner. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 6-8Australian author Gleitzman sets this novel in London. Keith Shipley, introduced in Misery Guts and Worry Warts (both Harcourt, 1995) is a teen who worries that his recently separated parents are both letting their appearances go to the point that they will be unable to attract new mates. Feeling a sense of urgency about the situation, he begins a matchmaking campaign. Unbeknownst to Mum and Dad, he tries (unsuccessfully) to place personal ads for each of them and then turns to his artistic talents as a means of promoting them. Interlaced with the plot is a visit from Keith's best pal from Australia, Tracy, and her Aunty Bev. Both story lines seem wholly implausible. First of all, it is highly unlikely that a teenage boy would assume full responsibility for restoring his parents' love lives and happiness. Also, the means he uses to achieve his dreams are truly preposterous. Keith's hope that Tracy's arrival will jolly up his parents is as far-fetched as the brief liaison between Keith's slovenly fry-cook father and Tracy's fanatic health-nut aunt. A failed romantic comedy.Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 5-7. Keith Shipley, last seen in Misery Guts (1993) and Worry Worts (1993), is still deeply involved in his parents' tumultuous relationship, but instead of trying to get them back together, he is now just hoping to make them presentable enough to be attractive to new partners. As usual, Keith is fighting a losing battle when it comes to running his parents' lives, but happily, his best friend from Australia, Tracy, comes to visit him in England to help. Unhappily, she brings her beautiful Aunt Bev along with her, and when Keith's dad shows an interest in her, Keith tries to tell himself that a new girlfriend for his dad was what he had in mind all the time. Bev, however, wants everyone to be as beautiful as she is, and her constant nagging begins to get on everyone's nerves. As in his previous books, Gleitzman turns everyday situations upside down with his humor and off-the-wall take on life. Certainly, kids who've been following Keith's adventures in matchmaking will want to read this, but it also stands on its own. (Reviewed June 1 & 15, 1996)015200047XIlene Cooper
Horn Book Review
As in 'Misery Guts' and 'Worry Warts' (both Harcourt), Keith Shipley's comically desperate mission to improve his parents' lives seems fated to go awry. This time, his frantic hints that physically unfit divorced people like them can't find new spouses and lifelong happiness just don't register. Keith's skewed perspective keeps the narrative engaging as he slowly discovers that low body fat may not equal fulfillment. From HORN BOOK 1996, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
In this third installment in a humorous series about the trials of worrier Keith Shipley (Misery Guts, 1993, etc.), he is now concerned about his divorced parents. They mope around their houses, out of shape and uninterested in making themselves attractive. Keith embarks on a series of creative but ineffective schemes to shape them up, culminating in the visit of his best friend, Tracy, and her aunt. Aunt Bev is making Tracy wretched with her obsession with dieting and cosmetic surgery. When she goes to work on Keith's parents, he feels the need, once again, to take matters into his own hands. Gleitzman's genius for endearingly quirky protagonists more than makes up for the far-fetched story. Keith, genuinely selfless, spends all of his time attempting to make everyone else's life perfect. His complete incompetence deters him not at all, nor will it deter readers from enjoying his increasingly grandiose, inevitably doomed, schemes. Absurdly funny stuff. (Fiction. 8-12)