Monthly Archives: October 2014

Review of The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg

Candice Phee CoverCandice Phee is autistic. She lacks certain social skills that enable her to make and maintain “normal” friendships. However, when she tells her friend’s mother that she isn’t autistic, the mother asks, “Then what are you?” She replies, “I’m me.”

And she is. She is also brutally honest, painfully literal, and fastidiously observant. These characteristics serve her well when completing her English assignment to write something about her that happened in the past, one paragraph for every letter of the alphabet. Twenty-six paragraphs turn into a book, in which she makes it her mission to ensure that those around her are happy. So, she attempts to help her friend Douglas Benson from Another Dimension get back to his own dimension, and she concocts a scheme to bring her father and his estranged brother back to together. Add to that the need to have her mother stop drowning in sorrow from having lost a child several years ago, and you’ve got one busy girl.

This award-winning Australian novel is a gem in the world of children’s literature. You will root for Candice, grieve for her parents, and appreciate Douglas’ seriousness. I adored this book, and so will you. This would make a great read-aloud with middle grade students.

Note: This review was written from an advance uncorrected proof, supplied by Chronicle Books, via The LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. A Common Core-Aligned Teachers’ Guide is available on the publisher’s website.

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