Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Paula Danziger's Amber Brown Hoses Around by Bruce Coville & Elizabeth Levy

Now that Amber's mom and her boyfriend Max are married (see Amber Brown is on the Move)and they are living in a new house, life has settled down somewhat for our young protagonist.  In fact, with 4th grade behind her, Amber is pretty excited about summer vacation.  She is off to Camp Cushetunk with school friends Kelly Green and Brandi Colwin, but best thing of all is that best friend ever Justin Daniels will be going to camp with her, traveling all the way from Alabama, where his parents moved to a few years ago.

Worst thing ever, the night before leaving for camp, Amber finds out that Hannah Burton will be at Camp Cushetunk, too.  Hannah and Amber have just never liked each other, so when she finds out that she will be bunking with Hannah instead of Kelly and Brandi, Amber begins to have doubts about camp.

But camp turns out to be fun with mostly friendly girls, campfires, songs and of course, the story about the Cushetunk Monster, or Cushy, who comes for one camper every year and lures them to the deepest part of the lake.  And, although it seems that Hannah is good at everything, and Amber is good at nothing, it turns out she is a little afraid of Cushy.

And maybe Amber can't swim like her friends and has to learn how in the Polliwog area, but there's one thing she is good at.  The moment she meets Cinnamon, her horse for the summer, Amber has found her skill - seems she is a natural on a horse and it seems Hannah is just as afraid of horses as she is Cushy.

But, this is camp and it doesn't take long for harmless pranks to begins.  But when Amber is the object of several of them, she begins to believe that Hannah is the prankster.  Then the final straw happens.  Amber most definitely checked the saddle on Cinnamon, but when she comes back from the latrine, the saddle is loose and she falls right into the spot where Cinnamon just relieved herself.  Hannah was there  the whole time and now she can't stop laughing.

The only thing to do is prank Hannah back.  But when that goes horribly wrong, Amber doesn't know what to do.

Even as Amber struggles with issues with Hannah Burton, and getting back at her pranking, there is a nice subplot about her parents connected to it.  She is beginning to accept and care about Max as a step dad, realizing that he really does care about her in a fatherly way, but Amber still has trouble with her real dad's wife Isobel.  When pranking Hannah blows up in her face, she learns a valuable lesson, that helps her to be able to tell her parents how she feels about their constant bickering whenever they are together.  A brave thing for a young girl to do.  I think many kids would like to have the courage to do the same with their fighting parents and maybe this story will help them deal with that.

That is one of the reasons why I think that the beauty of Amber Brown is that she is allowed to age and as that happens, she deals with exactly the kinds of problems so many kids face everyday.  From her best friend moving away to her parents divorce and remarriages, to problems with best friends and enemies at school and now camp.

This is the third book that Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy have collaborated on since Paula Danziger's death and I was afraid that as they wrote more Amber Brown books, she would begin to loose the personality that Paula had given her.   But, even though Amber sounds a little more mature (after all, she is heading into 5th grade), Coville and Levy have managed to keep the essence of Amber intact and she is still the lovable character that keeps her fans keep coming back.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my personal library

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