Review by Claire Young
Icky and CeCe and the Mysterious Mr. Thuan by Donna Piscatelli, is a fun story that sees best friends and new sixth graders, Isaac Babcock and Cecelia Manning, through their first year at Crossroads Middle. This new school year is sure to be interesting. CeCe campaigns for respect for their seemingly endless American food supply, Icky builds a rocket, and the foreign custodian the kids find more than a little weird keeps finding his way into their lives. But Mr. Thuan ends up teaching them just how much other countries are hurting and how blessed they are.
I love CeCe, first of all, because she is so real. She is appealing, but not perfect; has her faults but is still likeable. She has problems that, sadly, a growing portion of the world can identify with. Her family is the victim of a painful divorce, and she and her dad seem to be growing farther apart every year.
But the kids in the book tend to speak better than they would normally (I am, instead of I’m, you are instead of you’re, and how will I instead of how am I supposed to). In smaller amounts, this could set a good example, but it is a bit unrealistic. They also, once in a while act a little younger than they are. Take superhero day. It was a well-written sequence, but sixth graders might have been more on the oh, please side of something like that.
I liked the iPod sequence a lot, but it was never really finished. She loses it and it isn’t ever mentioned after that. DeDe could have given it back after CeCe apologizes to her, or she could have come to terms with the loss, now that she’s realized how much she has.
The scenes with CeCe’s father, mother, and with Mr. Thuan I found very touching. Kids need to know there are adults in their family they can turn to when there’s a problem, no matter how old they are. They don’t have to solve everything by themselves.
And, finally, this book has the rare and wonderful quality of being noticeably Catholic without constantly reminding you to the point of frustration or getting right up in your face. The Catholic writing industry and everybody else, for that matter, needs more books like this.
[Claire Young is a homeschooled seventh grader]
If you make a purchase via a link on this site, we may receive a small commission. There will be no added cost to you. Thank you!