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Sunny Side Up

New or Used: 2 copies from $8.97
Start with one quiet, perfect life. Add: 1 step-dad, 2 pre-cooked siblings, 1 best friend, 1 sworn enemy and a long lost grandmother. Flavour with a dash of secrets, a pinch of jealousy and a good dollop of growing-up. Cook on high all summer long. Fresh and spicy and as irresistible as Friday night pizza, Sunny Side Up is a story about surviving a heatwave, running a business, avoiding headlice, loving your dog, keeping secrets, saying goodbye and hello, and finding out what really matters.
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About the Author

Marion Roberts always wanted to be a fashion designer, but she studied science, alternative medicine and psychotherapy instead. She worked as a naturopath and also a chef, as well as teaching people to cook. Marion started writing because she wanted a job she could do in her pyjamas. Also, her friends kept saying her emails were too long, and she needed to find another place to put her stories. She was born in Melbourne, which has always been her home town.


Australian author Roberts debuts with a solid tale about the complexity of family and friendships. Sunny, a preteen, describes the summer "when everything started to change, and... change is not my strong point." She is forced to become a member of "one of those modern blended families" when her mother invites her boyfriend and his two children ("precooked siblings") to move in; her best friend pulls back from her and starts making overtures to the much-loathed Buster Conroy; and Sunny's maternal grandmother, Carmelene, long estranged from Sunny's mother, sends her a Christmas present for the first time, with an invitation to visit. Sunny does her best to visualize everything from "seat 44K" of her imaginary airplane: "everything becomes minute and insignificant... and your life starts to change shape and feel like a toy life in a board game, and all your worries go away." Keeping the tone light, Roberts raises potent questions about honesty and forgiveness; a neatness to the ending doesn't flatten the exuberance of Sunny's voice. Ages 9-14. (Feb.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

This is a debut novel with spunky and clever writing told in first person, in a strong and singular voice. Its humorous look at families, their differences and conflicts, and how they are handled, is most entertaining.' - Anastasia Gonis

Gr 5-7-Sunny Hathaway, 11, lives with her mother, a naturopath who smokes, and Willow, a greyhound, in an Australian town near the beach. She is on good terms with her father and stepmother, and excited about the pending birth of a half sister. Her voice is precocious and funny. Sunny frequently veers off on tangents, and she says that she needs help from the "Tangent Police" to get back on track. Although she is happy, her life is getting more confusing. Her friend Claud is suddenly interested in Buster Conroy; what will happen to the girls' Friday-night delivery business, Pizza-A-Go-Girl? Sunny likes being an only child, and now her mum's boyfriend and his two slightly annoying kids are moving in, along with their cat. And most importantly, why hasn't her mother ever let her see Granny Carmelene? Sunny's breezy tone, and the knowledge she gains, gives readers insight into her personality. Character development is strong, as the girl is quick to observe and comment on the people in her life, and the setting forms an interesting backdrop. Small black-and-white photos are liberally scattered throughout. While the novel will appeal to those who like introspective first-person narration, the frequent tangents can be distracting. Not a lot really happens, but that is not the point. It is Sunny's personal journey that matters.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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