Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Melting of Maggie Bean by Tricia Rayburn

I read this book for a second time, and I again gave it a rating of five out of five. Maggie's big conflict? She's in middle school and is very overweight. Her father is also out of work, and the family is suffering the effects of that. Her parents are making her join a group for overweight people, and her best friend, Aimee, wants the two of them to try out for the school's synchronized swimming team. Maggie can swim like a fish, but wearing the bathing suit presents a problem. One of the cutest boys in school, Peter Applewood, uses the locker next to hers, so that creates some anxiety. Maggie is a great student and uses a notebook to organize her life. She keeps a list of things to do, and the first two tasks are:

#1: Win over Peter Applewood with charm, intellect, and wit.

#2: Lose weight (in case charm, intellect, and wit backfire)

Maggie fights daily against the urge to eat; the opening pages of the book find Maggie in a store, debating the benefits of buying a week's supply of Twizzlers, Gummi Bears, Skittles, Butterfinger, Milky Way, or Nestle Crunch. You'll be amazed when you discover what Maggie has hidden under her bed. She decides to secretly improve herself, but the climax to the story may not be what you expect.

Even though I have nothing in common with Maggie, I can understand her struggles. Everyone in middle school has struggles, so most readers should be able to make connections in some way. I appreciate the author's ability to help me understand Maggie's internal conflicts and the way she mixes that with humor. Humor can be a great way to deal with stress, but it sometimes just postpones facing the real problems. The only thing about the book that I found strange was the middle school synchronized swimming team. How unusual is that? However, it didn't make the book any less enjoyable, and I think most middle school girls will be able to identify, in some way, with Maggie.

Lexile level from lexile.com 1010

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