Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World

1985, 1986 Laurel-Leaf edition
Paula Danziger
It's an Aardvark-Eat-Turtle World
Original price unknown, purchase price $1.98
Slightly worn paperback

Yes, this is about equal to The Divorce Express, but unfortunately it works better as a stand-alone.  Phoebe seems completely out of character, and bratty.  Rosie is a likable enough narrator, her puns replacing Phoebe's now forgotten anagrams, although I sometimes feel like Danziger is rushing through issues/topics-- "Divorce!  Living together!  Remarriage!  Racism!  Young Love! Friendship!  Canada!"  The title is one of her more contrived ones, since it has to do with a dog (Aardvark) eating a turtle, and they aren't even the pets of the main family.  And again, she's over-idealizing Woodstock, and failing to humanize the "superstraights," Phoebe's mother and stepfather.  I do like that the theme is that life, especially family, isn't perfect, but it's worth working at.  There are moments of realism but also moments of ABC After-School Special.  Again, she's writing of and to younger teens, although Phoebe does some off-page "making out."  Rosie's interracial (and international) romance with Phoebe's Canadian stepcousin is more innocent and nicely done, although they say "I love you" far too soon.  (Even Blume's Danziger in Forever would tell them to slow down emotionally.)

There are a few non-1960s pop references, but there's not really anything to show that three years have passed in the real world since Express.  It seemed like the six years between The Cat Ate My Gymsuit and There's a Bat in Bunk Five (which if I remember correctly also had a kid sister from another book, maybe Pistachio Prescription) offered more than double the cultural change, but it's been a long while since I've read them.

I should note that my copy has a far more fan-servicy cover than other editions, with the girls wearing long shirts and apparently no jeans/slacks/skirts.  It's creepy considering they're supposed to be 14.  Other editions wisely play off of the moving and/or friendship themes.  (The Express cover shows the girls at a bus stop, Rosie trying to cheer up Phoebe.)

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