Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


****Millicent Min, Girl Genius

by Lisa Yee

Reviewed May 25, 2004.
Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), New York, 2004.  248 pages.
Winner of the 2004 Sid Fleischman Humor Award.
Available at Sembach Library (JF YEE).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #3, Children's Contemporary Novels

Millicent Min was certified to be a genius at the age of 2.  She’s an extreme case—She’s appeared on TV, and now she’s finished 11th grade at 11 years old. 

We learn from the outset of the book, that Millicent’s social skills aren’t so far advanced.  She explains that she’s come up with a joke to sign in other high school students’ yearbooks so they can learn she has a sense of humor.  Her joke is to write “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck” in Latin, followed by “Oh!  Was I speaking Latin again?  Silly me.  Sometimes it just slips out,” also in Latin.  We’re not surprised when no one asks her to sign their yearbook.

As the summer begins, Millicent’s excited about the college poetry class she’s taking, but the only friend she makes there, besides the teacher, is someone who wants help with her homework.  Her parents are also making her spend the summer tutoring the detestable Stanford Wong and playing on a volleyball team.

On the volleyball team, Millicent makes friends with Emily, who is also not very good at volleyball.  She doesn’t know that Millicent’s a genius, and she likes her.  As their friendship grows, Millicent goes to greater and greater lengths to hide the truth.  But can a friendship thrive with a big lie behind it?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It’s about time freakishly smart kids had a story about someone like them!  And kids who aren’t anywhere near Millicent’s intellectual level will enjoy seeing that she has the same problems—or even bigger ones—than they do when it comes to making friends.

I love the secondary characters in this book.  For once, we have parents in children’s literature who love each other!  (And they disgust Millicent when they kiss in front of her.)  Granted, Emily’s parents are divorced, but all of the adults are interesting individuals, and so are the kids who appear on the sidelines.  Bottom line, this is a good story, cleverly told.

Review of other books by Lisa Yee:
Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time
Maizy Chen's Last Chance

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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