Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Universe of Fair

The Universe of Fair

Fall 2012 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Leslie Bulion
ISBN: 9781561456345
Hardcover Price: $15.95

Miller has his entire day planned out for the opening of the Holmsford Fair, his favorite event of the entire year. He's mapped out all the rides he wants to do, the Fair foods he wants to eat, and the gifts he wants to buy. He has his youth project, a collection of sculptures depicting the Theory of Everything, ready for entry in the youth exhibit. Of course, his perfect day depends on his parents letting him spend Fair Day on his own, like all the other sixth graders do, instead of tagging around with his parents and his sister Pain-elope. Since Miller's mom is probably the most anxious mother on the planet, Miller thinks this might never happen. But then, his mother is suddenly called into work on an emergency, and his father has to cover her volunteer shifts at the fair, and his neighbor's mother is laid low with a migraine, leaving Miller and his trusty friend Lewis to pilot, not just Pain-elope, but her two annoying six-year-old friends around the Fair. Miller has so much responsibility on his hands, he finds himself unable to carry out any of his Fair plans. To make matters worse, Miller and the six-year-olds accidentally ate most of the lemon meringue pie his father made to enter in the Fair's pie contest (his best ever, which is saying a lot), and Miller hasn't been able to find either the time or the courage to tell him. His beautiful Fair Friday is turning out to be one of the rottenest ever. Can the day get any worse?

The strength of this highly entertaining new novel is in the brilliantly drawn characterizations of both children and adults. Some of the best scenes occur when Miller is trying unsuccessfully to get three very different first graders going in the same direction on a packed midway; readers with younger siblings will feel deeply for Miller's plight, and parents will be even more sympathetic. Miller's mom is also nicely rendered as a convincingly anxious, but loving (and lovable) social worker. The plot is fast-paced and engaging, and the Dormer's drawings are appropriately whimsical. The one somewhat strange element of the story is a secondary plot line involving an older man named Rip, who tells Miller about ghost stories and graveyard lore from the town's past; while I found this plot line somewhat distracting, many young readers will enjoy the extra frisson added by the ghost story.

Naomi Lesley   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

Look for this product at:
Peachtree Publishers

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