Someday Angeline by Louis Sachar

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Someday Angeline by Louis Sachar
Buy Someday Angeline from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Someday Angeline from Amazon.com

Genre: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: This is a wonderful book for newly confident readers. Full of one-liners, absurd situations and some very real emotions, it has the surreal feel of Roald Dahl, but with an extra dollop of kindness. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: March 2007
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 978-0747587231

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Angeline is eight years old. She is, officially, a genius. She spoke her first word octopus from her crib at only a few weeks old. She could play the piano perfectly before ever having a lesson. She can predict the weather with perfect accuracy and she knew without being told that the world spins at 1,037 miles per hour. Someday, Angeline is going to be somebody really important. However, being so bright has not made Angeline's life easy. She's been moved up several years in class and is resented by not only the other children, who call her the freak, but also her teacher, who can't stand being bested by an eight year old. Even Angeline's father is intimidated by her. He just doesn't know what to say to her at all. All in all, things aren't going so well for Angeline.

But all that changes when she meets Gary, an oddity just like herself, and his teacher, Miss Turbone, known to Gary, who loves all jokes with wordplay and tells at least one thousand terrible jokes a day, as Mr Bone. At last, Angeline finds someone who will give her the chance just to be herself.

Someday Angeline is an absolutely delightful little book, by turns funny, sad, surreal, uplifting and then funny all over again. It's about two lonely children finally finding friendship. It's about parenting. It's about love, loss and grief. It's about learning to understand yourself. It's also about understanding how playing with words can be a source of endless delight for everyone, no matter their age. But most of all it's about laughter and terrible, terrible jokes. And that's exactly the right recipe, don't you think?

There are touches of the wild surrealism of Roald Dahl, but Sachar adds a decent dollop of extra kindness without resorting to the saccharine. I think both men remember and recognise the huge raft of ideas and norms that children are required to accept before they can fully understand them. This understanding translates into aspects of their stories which seem outrageously silly to adults but which make perfect sense to those who have yet to grow up. I love this exclusion of adults. I also like the various repetitions. For example, every time Gary tells one of his terrible jokes Angeline thinks it was the funniest joke she had ever heard. Babies and toddlers love repetition. Young readers want to continue to love it but we mean adults are beginning to try to take it away from them. Sachar's little repeated phrases are a clever way of inserting familiarity and a reassuring motif for all little ones working their way through their first novels.

I really, really, really enjoyed Someday Angeline. It's a proper novel with a proper plot containing proper conflict and a proper resolution. It uses language creatively and it has both surface and underlying themes and ideas. It has a unique and instantly recognisable authorial voice. First published in 1983, it hasn't dated at all. Best of all, it can be approached by any newly confident reader however young. There aren't enough really good books for this age group, so when you find one, you should buy it immediately. Put Someday Angeline on your list.

My thanks to Bloomsbury for sending the book.

Roald Dahl's Esio Trot has equally silly and enjoyable wordplay for younger readers and How To Write Really Badly by Anne Fine talks about school troubles humorously.

Booklists.jpg Someday Angeline by Louis Sachar is in the Top Ten Quirky Kids' Books.
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