Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Smiles To Go by Jerry Spinelli

Smiles to GoI wanted to read Smiles To Go, because I'm a huge fan of Spinelli's Maniac Magee and Stargirl, and it featured a *gasp* skater. Yes! Finally a main character that will relate to my skater kids.

Unfortunately, that's not what I got. Smiles to Go features Will Tuppence, whom I see more as a nerd that skates rather than a skater. Maybe I'm being harsh in classifying him as a nerd, but he (a) loves science and talks incessantly about a current news story where it's announced that a proton has died, (b) plays Monopoly every Friday night with his two best friends and it seems to be the highlight of his week, and (c) is a competitive chess player. I'm not too sure that many kids that identify themselves as skaters would do a, b, or c, much less all three.

Once I got into the story and forgot about my first impressions, I found a solid story dealing with the typical life of a middle schooler. Will has to learn to handle the changes in his friendships as they all grow and mature. Also, I enjoyed the family dynamics -- learning to live with the annoying little sister and realizing how much she means to him after all.

Smiles to Go was just one of those stories that doesn't leave you with much. I wanted to like it more than I actually did. It's not a bad story; it's just not memorable either. My rating: C.

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