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Home > Book, Book Review, Contemporary, Reviews, Young Adult > Book Review – Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner by Dalya Moon

Book Review – Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner by Dalya Moon

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Book Description:

It’s 1988, and Charlie Woodchuck is the most minor of niners. At thirteen, she’s the youngest girl at Snowy Cove High School, and so clueless, she wore leg warmers and acid-wash jeans on her first day. Big mistake! Almost as big a mistake as signing up for a boys-only shop class. Doy.

Just when she thinks the first week of high school can’t get any more weird, Charlie discovers she may be adopted. According to her Science textbook, her eyes should be blue, not brown.

Now the girl with the boy’s name will have to use her detective skills to uncover the mystery of her identity. She’ll need the help of best friend Stacy, expert blackmailer, and new friend Ross, expert class clown.

Before the year ends, Charlie will face down the biggest bullies of all: the all-powerful members of Snowy Cove’s School Board. The Board doesn’t like what Charlie’s been up to, and they’re all out of doughnuts.

*

It’s my first year at Snowy Cove High, and I want to be more than just another minor niner.”

Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner by Dalya Moon is a deliciously nostalgic coming-of-age tale that chronicles a young girl’s first year in high school in the 1980s. If there’s anything bad I can say about this book, it’s that there’s just a bit too much plot crammed into such a short book (just 175 pages). But otherwise, I absolutely loved it, including the snarky main character of Charlie (and would have no qualms recommending it to young readers in the same breath as a Judy Blume book, for example). And yes, that is high praise from me 🙂

During first day of classes at Snowy Cove High, thirteen-year-old Charlie Woodchuck decides that this year, she wants more than the blank caption she got in last year’s yearbook. This year, she’ll be known  as “the rebel” and that’s why she impulsively signs up for a gender-segregated Woodshop class just to buck the system. Well, that minor act of rebellion becomes the flying start to Charlie’s roller-coaster year in the 9th grade.  Not only does Charlie have to deal with unexpected pressures and harassment at Woodshop class, her world is rocked hard by Science homework that unwittingly opens a Pandora’s box of questions about her ‘real’ place in her family. Throw in her best friend Stacy finding new friends plus being the butt of dorky class clown Ross’ jokes – well, the only bright spot in the 9th grade so far would seem to be the dreamy new boy Sky (who does talk to her every now and then, not that Charlie’s counting).

Charlie is a wonderful main character – she’s smart, funny and endearing, and I didn’t even mind that the story is told from the first person POV present tense (which I usually hate), but debut author Dalya Moon makes it work. I would’ve loved to have a best friend like Charlie when I was a kid. The final chapter in the book reads like a poignant epilogue, and I thought that the yearbook caption that Charlie does end up with (which I won’t spoil!) perfectly summed up her year of growing-up. Great job with your first book, Ms Moon.

Set in 1988 to 1989, I also think the book would be a good opportunity for moms to bond over the 80s with their tweens. It is chock-full of references to 80s pop culture – from the hair, to the make-up/fashion, magazines, movies and posters of movie stars that teenage girls put on their walls (Yes, dear, Johnny Depp was as cool in the 80s as in the new millennium). I only wished there were more music references to complete the picture. (Oh, and I also wished that the author had added an 80s slang dictionary just to explain the odd phrases in the book)

I highly recommend Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner – grab it for the young reader in your family and enjoy the story with them 🙂

Charlie Woodchuck is a Minor Niner by Dalya Moon (Self-published) is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition and Paperback.

The eBook is also available at B&N and Sony.

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