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Benny and Babe
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Gr 6-8-Humor, sensitivity, and candor underscore this coming-of-age story that features incredibly well-drawn characters. First introduced in Benny and Omar (O'Brien, 2001), 13-year-old Benny Shaw is Colfer's protagonist once again. He is a townie, spending his summer holidays on the coast with his lighthouse-keeper Granda. Babe is a wooller, a local, and the inherent prejudice between the two groups defines the state of their relationship at first. Benny meets her and her dog Conger at a hurling game. Their initial encounter is far from congenial, but a rocky friendship develops. Eventually they form a "partnership" to retrieve fishing bait lost in the water. With their combined forces they gather the bait in order to market it, often selling it back to the people who lost it. Enter Furty Howlin, the town bad boy with a dreadful home life who has already been in prison for a botched robbery attempt. He, too, is selling bait, and the competition begins. Danger follows, Furty is involved in their rescue, and Benny and Babe learn something about their relationship. In the beginning, the Irish colloquialisms are off-putting, but the wonderfully constructed story and the fully developed characters help readers to get past the obstacle. This book has it all-an absorbing story, vibrant characters with whom readers will surely identify, and an on-target narrative voice.-Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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