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

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter

Spring 2011 Fiction
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Kristen Tracy
ISBN: 978-0-385-73688-6
Hardcover Price: $12.99

Bessica Lefter is starting middle school with big problems – her best friend transferred to another school at the last minute, her grandmother has run off with her boyfriend in a motor home, she’s starting school not knowing one other person, and has a brand-new pixie haircut that kicked off all her problems.

This is a story about the perils of middle school, with a strong and irresistible protagonist. Bessica Lefter was named after the real-life Bessica Raiche, the first woman to pilot a solo flight. Raiche built a plane in her living room from bamboo and silk and bicycle wheels. She was an interesting and plucky character, a fitting namesake for the fictional Bessica.

Author Kristen Tracy addresses the horrors – bullies, lunch seating, malfunctioning lockers, P.E. – with engaging humor. Bessica plunges into everything she does with a hapless and desperate passion. She bumbles through her first week of school, and anything that can go wrong, does. Her locker won’t open, she has pens when she’s supposed to have pencils, and overwhelmed by the daunting lunch scene she sticks to vending machines which, in an unfortunate comedy of errors, lands her in the principal’s office. Bessica inadvertently fails to heed every bit of advice the well-meaning Docker twins armed her with – i.e., steer clear of the alt crowd, Dolan the Puker and psycho-bullies. Still, she keeps coming back.

Bessica’s determination is infectious, and courageous. Faced with one humiliation after another, she manages to triumph, and it makes the ending that much more of a payoff. Tracy uses just the right touch of humor to keep the story fun, yet still take seriously some painful side effects of growing up.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2011 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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Random House Children's Books

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