Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Middle-Grade Review: Elvis & Olive

I chose to read a middle-grade novel targeted toward a slightly younger audience (probably best for grades 3 to 6) this week so that I can pass it along to my little cousins when I see them this weekend.   I expected to do a quick read-through and review of Elvis & Olive by Stephanie Watson, but I was pleasantly surprised by this sweet and funny novel of young friendship.

Natalie, a straight-A student and a bit of a perfectionist, has just finished 4th grade and is already bored by summer.  As she rides her bike around the block over and over trying to beat her best time, she encounters someone new in the neighborhood:

He was still holding his hand out, willing Natalie to stay where she was.  The other hand was behind his back.

“I’m gonna tell you a secret,” he said.

“Why would you tell me a secret?” Natalie asked.  “I don’t even know you.”


“Usually you know someone before you tell them a secret,” she said, offering her hand to shake his.  “I’m Natalie.  You’re the new boy from across the street, right?”

His eyes became slits.

“Boy?!  I’m not a boy.  I’m a GIRL!”  The shout echoed off the houses.  Natalie slowly lowered her hand back to the handlebar.

With this difficult introduction, Natalie meets Annie.  The two girls couldn’t be more different.  Natalie dresses neatly and is cautious and shy, while Annie is often covered with dirt but is brave and outgoing.  They quickly get past their rough start, become friends, and decide to devote their summer to being spies and uncovering secrets.  Their code names are Elvis and Olive, and suddenly, Natalie’s summer is anything but boring.

I just loved these two girls and their friendship – it reminded me very much of summers spent with my best friend roaming around our neighborhood, sharing secrets.  It’s not all fun and games, though.  Both girls have some secrets of their own, and secrets have a way of leaking out when you least expect it.  It’s a fun and heartwarming story that carries you along to a satisfying conclusion.  I can’t wait to pass this wonderful book along to my cousins this weekend!

NOTE:  The sequel, Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives, came out in hardcover on July 1.

230 pages, Scholastic

1 comment:

Jan von Harz said...

Sounds like a lovely story, with some great adventures thrown in. Although too young for my students, I am going to check with my librarian friend to see if she has this in her elementary library. I know your cousins will love it.