Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
I Can See Clearly Now
on 15 December 2015
I've come around on the appeal of these "Naughtiest Girl" books, and here's why. My first reaction was sort of negative. Naughty Elizabeth is a bit over the top, the situations she gets into seem too antic and manufactured, and the resolutions are rather pat. There are lots of kids characters and they are quicksilver in their "like you - hate you - we're best friends - we're enemies" snap judgments. There's a lot of "I like the cut of your jib" and "she's O.K. 'cause she's made of the right stuff" judging going on. It all seems rather brisk and snappish and rather shallow.
But, and this is an important "but", I started to think about the current books available to young, mostly girl, readers. You have Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones, Ramona, and an almost endless list of thoughtless shallow drama queens, whose exploits are meant to be amusing but seem to occur in some sort of behavior vacuum. For older readers, you have an infinite variety of gossipy-mean-rich-twinkly girl gangs loaded with frenemies and slippery characters of dubious appeal.
When weighing one against the other I began to see the appeal of the Naughtiest Girl and of other more old fashioned girl heroine books. (Pollyhanna, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Heidi, and any girl from any size House on thePrairie would eat these modern girls up and spit them out.) In the Naughtiest Girl books Elizabeth makes mistakes and howlingly bad decisions. She then recognizes her errors or has them pointed out to her by supportive friends or patient, understanding adults. She tries to do better - as a friend, as a classmate, and as a person. She does actually have the "right stuff" and she soldiers on determined to be a worthy friend and person. It may be a little pat and there is a lot of judging going on, but there is gentle instruction and guidance on offer here along with the school daze silliness.
So, I don't think I'd read all ten Naughtiest Girl books in a row, but I'm not a nine or ten year old girl dying to find out what kind of scrape Elizabeth will get into next. Many of these books came out in weekly serial form, and that explains the ebb and flow of the chapters, and the ups and downs of the plots once they were turned into books. There is energy here, and good humor, and common sense, and a lot more girrrlll power than their 1940's origins would suggest. I'm a convert.