Review Blog

Jan 22 2013

Miss Understood by James Roy

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Woolshed Press, 2012. ISBN: 9781864718607. 288 pages RRP: $16.95
(Age: Mid-Upper primary) Highly recommended. Meet Lizzie . . . who is Betty to her dad, Elizabeth to her kindly neighbour - and to those in charge at Our Lady of the Sacred Wimple, a troublemaker of the highest order. With flair reminiscent of Robin Klein's Penny Pollard, Lizzie seems to continually blunder into one scrape after another, usually with dire results, yet always with the best of original intention. When she accidentally sets fire to Sacred Wimple, Lizzie is politely asked to leave the school and so begins a new experience of being homeschooled by her teacher mum. While this is not quite the ordeal Lizzie was expecting, she does run into some disturbing situations - the mystery of the unoccupied house next door, her father's erratic behaviour and the trial of being abandoned by her best friend. However, through a new approach to important aspects of her young life, Lizzie begins to make some advances in thinking responsibly with visibly improved results.
James Roy continues his deft touch for young readers with this light-hearted novel, which delivers a topical and timely message about a common mental illness - depression. Lizzie's family is a very normal and recognisable one, living in suburbia - parents working hard to maintain a very simple lifestyle, sometimes struggling to do so. The relationships between Lizzie and the adults in her life are handled with humour and realism.
Eminently suitable as a read-aloud, this novel is recommended highly for children in mid to upper primary.
Sue Warren

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