Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Second Fiddle

Second Fiddle

Spring 2011 Historical Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Rosanne Parry
ISBN: 978-0-375-86196-3
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Jody’s been playing second fiddle all her life, and not just in her string trio; her two brilliant and strong-willed friends always command attention, and as her family is preparing to move, her father seems to be prioritizing everyone’s wishes but hers. One way or another, Jody is always in the background. But when her she and her trio find an Estonian soldier fleeing the Russian army in the newly re-opened East Berlin, it’s Jody who has the medical know-how to help him and who comes up with a plan for his escape. Using the cover of a string competition in Paris, the trio aims to win the music competition, spend one last weekend together before their military transfers take effect, and save the injured soldier, all in one glorious expedition. When their careful plans inevitably go awry, Jody finally gets the opportunity to demonstrate her own ingenuity and talent.

The strongest aspect of this entertaining new novel is its depictions of family life in the army. Jody and her friends are army brats of different kinds; Jody’s father is an enlisted soldier, Giselle’s is an officer, and Vivian’s mother is an ambassador. Jody’s narration shows her sensitivity to these differences in rank, and also highlights what the friends share; they all learn adaptability in the face of constant moves, and they all learn to read the changing political situation through their parents’ tension. The adventure in Paris is fast-paced and fun, and Jody’s success is emotionally satisfying. Despite a few lapses in musical knowledge and a slightly overdone ending, this novel is a good read for kids and parents alike.

Naomi Lesley   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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Random House Children's Books

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