I’ve always been in critique groups to get feedback on my writing, and it is beyond helpful. A few years back a 6th grade teacher asked if I would be interested in getting some younger reactions to my manuscripts from her future author’s club. Turned out to be a great experience and every kid was brutally honest.
What does this little vignette have to do with today’s review? A lot! DOUBLE the DANGER and ZERO ZUCCHINI is a fictional story about writing a children’s book and getting feedback from kids who are the intended audience. Why didn’t I think of that?
Caroline is young Alex Harmon’s aunt and is writing her first children’s story, Gerald Visits Grampa. Alex is a reluctant reader and would rather run than read. But when his aunt asks him to critique her work, he agrees especially since there is ten dollars promised. When he does get around to opening the manuscript, it doesn’t take more than a few pages to conclude the story is a boring mess. From there he skims to the climatic end where a prize winning zucchini is the worst ending yet. But Alex is hesitant to give his aunt the negative feedback she deserves.
He enlists his friends, Marta and Javier to help. They begin brainstorming and trying out live stunts to give Aunt Caroline some ideas to get rid of the boring parts, including the zucchini. She also needs to double the danger (The above title should be making more sense now). This leads to a haunted house where they encounter a true ghost writer, and a much less haunted trip to the local senior center where a lively group of retirees offer their help.
The author has created a fun look at the process of writing and rewriting. More than a few readers will lose their reluctant label by picking up Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini.
BOOK BIRTHDAY: September 22, 2020 PAGE COUNT: 304
FIVE MORE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT
DOUBLE the DANGER and ZERO ZUCCHINI bu Betsy Uhrig
- Short chapters—117 of them and most less than two pages! Teachers who have only five minutes at the end of a period to read or reluctant readers whose parents make them read one chapter a night will be cheering.
- Alex’s irritating younger brother, Alvin, turned out to be more fun than I imagined. He’s always getting into some kind of trouble when he’s testing out one of his theories.
- Marta’s daring stunt loving ways and Javier’s camera work abilities were also a welcome part of the plot.
- Alex’s interactions with the seniors was truly charming. He respects and wants their help and gains a few elderly friends in the process.
- The reveal of who was playing the ghostly writer role is saved for the end. I didn’t see that one coming and neither did Alex, but it was the perfect choice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Betsy Uhrig was born and raised in Greater Boston, where she lives with her family and way more books than you are picturing. She graduated from Smith College with a degree in English and has worked in publishing ever since. She writes books for children instead of doing things that aren’t as fun. Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini is her first novel. Normally she goes out of her way to avoid danger and has nothing against zucchini. Visit her online at BetsyUhrig.com or on Twitter @BetsyUhrig.
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