Hamlet, named for her Shakespeare-obsessed parents' favorite play, is starting the school year with the goal of fitting in. Not so easy when her parents walk around in Elizabethan garb and her seven-year-old genius sister, Desdemona, will be beginning eighth grade alongside her. Hamlet's two nemeses immediately befriend her sister and her crush doesn't notice her (though her male best friend is supposedly crushing on her). The final straw is the Shakespeare festival at school. When selected in class to read from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet proves to be a brilliant reader of the Bard, a skill she quickly tries to hide. Unsurprisingly, she must decide if it's better to shine as herself, both at school and at home, or to blend in the background. Hamlet's parents and circumstances feel over the top, but her emotions will resonate with anyone who has been embarrassed by family or confused by boys. Dionne's (Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies) pacing is a bit slow (the story is structured in three acts), but her voice is relatable and engaging. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Gr 5-8-Eighth-grader Hamlet Kennedy, so named by her slightly obsessed Shakespearean-scholar parents, works hard to be normal and fit in at school. This becomes even more difficult when her genius seven-year-old sister begins attending her middle school. Hamlet offers her guidance and is stung not only when her advice is rejected, but also when Desdemona befriends two mean girls who have picked on Hamlet for years. On top of everything else, her teachers announce a special Shakespeare unit, and Hamlet is assigned the starring role in A Midsummer's Night's Dream. Suddenly, blending into the crowd is no longer an option and she must find the courage to embrace her talent as a Shakespearean performer and her family's quirkiness. Hamlet's narration is charming, and readers will empathize entirely with her embarrassment at both her clueless parents and her wavering between trying to protect her younger sister and allowing her to find out the hard way how to pick friends. Add a bit of romantic intrigue involving mysterious origami pigs and you have an excellent choice for middle school readers.-Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Hoping to fly under the radar in middle school, Hamlet's dream of a quiet eighth-grade year is dashed. Her genius seven-year-old sister, Desdemona, is also enrolled in eighth grade so she can fill her homeschooled curriculum deficiencies in the arts before moving on to college, and her flamboyant Shakespearean scholar parents in full Elizabethan garb offer their expertise in Hamlet's class. Hamlet vacillates between being protective of Dezzie and distancing herself. But when two popular girls befriend Dezzie, Hamlet wonders at their motives and causes a rift with her sister when she voices the suspicion that they are taking advantage of Dezzie's smarts to help them pass their classes. Hamlet further stands out during a dazzling reading of A Midsummer Night's Dream,which reveals her natural talent for theater. Some sisterly bonding, the sweet flutterings of a first romance, and a creatively contrived comeuppance for the mean girls make this a cheerful read for younger middle-schoolers.--Booth, Heather Copyright 2010 Booklist