CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 40. . . .June 15, 2018
My Deal With the Universe.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2018.
231 pp., trade pbk. & ebook, $8.99 (pbk).
ISBN 978-1-4431-5756-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-5757-5 (ebook).
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Janet Beauchamp.
“You know what? My parents work really hard and they’re trying their best and I’m sorry if that’s not good enough for you. So what if they don’t have time for gardening? That doesn’t make them bad people!”
I’m yelling so loudly, my throat hurts. But now that I’ve started, I can’t stop. I hold up my finger and waggle it in front of her face so she’ll know what it feels like.
“My parents are smart and kind and caring. And so’s my brother. He’s only twelve and he already has the biggest heart in the world. But you? I feel sorry for you because you’re just an angry old lady who hates kids and who has nothing better to do than criticize people and go around making stupid petitions.”
Daisy is your typical pre-teen who just wants to hang out with her best friend and make up games. The problem is that she has lived her whole live in a house called “the jungle” because her parents are hippies who do not want to interfere with nature, and so vines have overtaken her whole house and have even blocked the windows. The kids at school call her “Weed”, and life is even tougher because her brother has been sick and now her best friend is going away for the summer.
Deborah Kerbel does a remarkable job of bringing these characters and Daisy’s emotions to life. I experienced every emotion throughout the book as if I was a caring friend of Daisy’s. Readers get to know Daisy over the summer as the families in her neighbourhood start a petition to have the vines cut back or entirely removed from her house. Luckily, with her best friend gone for the summer (and barely staying in touch via postcards), Daisy finds two allies in the weirdest of circumstances. Her terrible next door neighbours who have started the effort to remove the vines are hosting their great niece and nephew, Violet and Zack. While their aunt and uncle are collecting signatures, Violet and Zach become friends with Daisy and her brother Jack. As the story continued, I felt emotions like sadness, anger, pride and joy. As well, I actually found myself missing the characters once I was done the book.
You will have to read the entire story to meet Daisy and Jack’s mom and dad, to get to know the meddling neighbours, The Pitt’s, to learn if Jack has recovered from his illness and to see what happens between Daisy and her best friend when she returns from summer camp.
Janet Beauchamp, a high school teacher and teacher-librarian, is the mother of three girls and lives in L’Amable, ON.
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