Hello and happy Friday. It is no secret that I’ve been trying to consciously read more middle-grade books and I usually enjoy them quite a lot. What I’ve come to realize is that making the voice of a kid believable is not that easy, and that can either make or break a book. Today I’ll be reviewing Clara Humble: Quiz Whiz by Anna Humphrey, which I got via NetGalley, so I would like to thank them, the author and the publisher.
I read this book between March 9th and March 14th, 2020 and gave it two stars. Sadly, it didn’t do it for me. I had high hopes for it since it features a female main character who writes her own comic book, so I thought it would be empowering, challenging the so-called gender roles. Besides that, Clara is going to compete in a game show, and though I don’t read a lot about games or competitions in books, that can certainly make a plot exciting. It had all the elements to make it a solid read for me, but it didn’t deliver.
One of the first signs to me that probably I wasn’t going to enjoy this book was the fact that the main character, who is also the narrator, uses words that are “too big” for a kid. She uses words and phrases her ideas in ways that an adult could, and that’s a pet peeve of mine: when you can tell that the author is an older person trying to sound younger.
The other big issue I had was related to Clara’s character, again, especially when we consider that this book will be mainly read by children. She came across as petty to me, and I didn’t find her likable or appealing for young readers. Clara criticizes everybody who surrounds her or she thinks mean things about them, even her friends. For example, she compares one of her friends to a mouse because she’s small and quiet. That didn’t sit well with me, especially since Clara thinks that she’s perfect and she doesn’t grow as a character or realize that the way she thinks is wrong.
Clara has a best friend called Bradley and she constantly says that he’s quiet and shy. The first time this was said and the first time the gameshow was mentioned, I thought we would have them both fight because they were both competing. It went sort of like that since at first Bradley’s mom’s boyfriend is the person who makes him compete, but then once they’re both in the gameshow, the contestants (Clara included) start pulling pranks on each other and basically cheating to make the other one lose. This, again, is never addressed and there are no repercussions against anyone.
Do you know of any middle-grade novels that feature a female main character and/or a gameshow or contest of any sort? Let me know in the comments.
Love, Miss Camila