Middle Grade Review: No Ordinary Excuse

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No Ordinary Excuse by Michelle Adams

Age Range: 8 and up

Paperback: 170 pages

Publisher: Odyssey Books (February 11, 2012)

Series: None

Genre: Contemporary

Source: Publisher via NetGalley (thank you!)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

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About the Book:

‘I put on my imaginary thinking cap. Mine is a hot pink, domed helmet
with purple lightning bolts on the sides. It pulls down from a long
spring coil above my bed… So with my cap in place, I started thinking of
possible homework excuses. Maybe I could tell Miss Haven that I’d spent
the last two weeks under alien hypnosis and they’d erased any memory of
a school project…’

Meet twelve year old Gemma Martin. She
wants to be an actress, but school is getting in the way. Gemma has used
all of the usual excuses to avoid her homework, but this time she’s
facing serious consequences and must rely on her vivid imagination to
create the most extraordinary homework excuse ever. Initially, Gemma’s
stolen project story skyrockets her popularity, but it isn’t long before
things start to spiral out of control and Gemma is headed for disaster.
No Ordinary Excuse is the story of how our biggest mistakes are often our greatest teachers.

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

From the Author:

Concern for our Tweens.

Tween girls have been forgotten in the literary world.

The
junior fiction-or middle grade reader category spans from 9-12 years,
with most publications best satisfying the lower end of the spectrum.
The 10-12 year old female audience is a niche market that is not being
adequately provided for. They are often sophisticated readers, yet still
too young for the mature concepts found in teen fiction.

The
problem arising from this is that our tweens are reading way above
their development level in the Young Adult literature section and being
exposed to inappropriate content. In a world where the marketing giants
are constantly bombarding this impressionable demographic and forcing
them to grow up quicker than ever, it is sad to see a lack of suitable
contemporary fiction that deals with the pressures that tweens face
without the more complex issues that teen fiction confronts. Literature
has long served the purpose of being adaptive and offering perspectives
and possibilities that we may not otherwise be exposed to.  Without
suitable literature to read, our girls have been left even more
vulnerable to the advertising wolves with an evident influx of tween
magazines telling our girls
how to dress, how to think and how to act. Parents and educators are at a loss on how to tackle the problem.

“More
and more girls are concerned about how they look, what they are
wearing, what friends think and what the rich and famous are doing. This
leaves little room for an internal life to have the freedom to lose
themselves in their own thoughts, dreams or passions or to be intrigued
by 
things that are out of the ordinary or unexpected which is crucial to imagination.” (Hamilton, 2008:58)

I
believe publishers have a responsibility to assess this gap in the
market and as an author I am determined to effect change for our young
girls through their accessibility to contemporary literature. I am
currently writing within the junior fiction genre and my first novel, No Ordinary Excuse is
a contemporary novel dealing with the issues of peer popularity and the
pressures of being perfect (relevant to their age group) while trying
to maintain a unique identity though creativity and imagination.

Reference:
Hamilton, M 2008, What’s happening to our girls? Too much too soon, 
Penguin Group, Australia.

About the Author:

 Michelle Adams is an eclectic mix of creativity.
She is an author, an artist, a mother, a foodie, a student, a mentor and an inspirator. Michelle loves story, theatre, music, art and cooking; and most of all, Michelle loves books.

Michelle lives
in a fantastical world of magical realism, far removed from the chaos of
the modern, fast-paced world. She exists in a realm where everyone has
the time to hear a good story and the joy of growing and cooking your
own food is the norm. Many people wander in and out of Michelle’s home,
drawn in by wafting aromas or wandering welcome bubbles. This is a happy
place where the magic of imagination is alive and well.

Michelle’s
ultimate goal is to inspire, encourage and empower young girls and
other women to find and create their own identity based on what they
love to do, and show them that they don’t have to be what the media
sells them. Michelle despises the forceful marketing message that a
woman’s value is based solely upon her looks. Michelle’s major concern
as a junior fiction author and a mum, is that this message is being sold
to younger audiences and the effects of such advertising is causing
irreparable damage to our children. 

Michelle is a
Bachelor of Media student who plans to major in screenwriting. Perhaps
one day Michelle will sell her whimsical (or warped) sense of art and
romanticism to an enthusiastic audience and then retire to a private
island where she might finally get some sleep. Whatever she does,
Michelle will be writing up until the moment she takes her last breath.

My Thoughts:

I think this may be my very first book set in Australia. In this story,
we meet Gemma, a bright and imaginative protagonist that can’t remember
to do her homework assignments to save her life. In a desperate attempt
to convince her teacher to allow her more time to complete a project,
Gemma tells her that the finished assignment has been kidnapped and
taken on holiday (what an awesome excuse!)

The concept is very cute and entertaining. I found myself very
interested in what was going to happen with this little white lie that
was spinning out of control. Gemma was an adorable character that I
couldn’t help but cheer for, even with all her flaws. This is a book
that kids, especially girls, will be able to relate to.

My one criticism is that the story was very predictable. I have read the
snowballing lie story a thousand and one times. There were no
surprises, and everything played out precisely the way I thought it
would. However, it is cute and well written middle grade novel
that most kids would enjoy. 

And I just have to put in my plug that I love the author’s mission in creating suitable reading material for tween girls.  I whole heartedly agree that age group has been neglected and I am glad to see an author and publisher addressing the problem!


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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Adriana Garcia
    September 10, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I've read some books on little white lies that spiral out of control too. I don't like that there are no surprises in a pretty generic story especially since I've already read some like this. It does sound like something I would have liked and tween and maybe even today.
    I didn't even think about tweens missing out in the book world. I guess I always rounded them up with MG readers.

    • Reply
      reviewkidsbooks@gmail.com
      September 11, 2013 at 1:48 am

      I've always done that too. I figured they were well accounted for with all the great MG books out there. But now that I think about it, it seems like most of the really good MG books are intended for boys.

      The book is really cute, just nothing new. I enjoyed it, and I know I would have liked it as a kid too.

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