Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sallie's Test of Skill and Charlotte Cross and Aunt Deb

In Sallie's Test of Skill, Sallie, Frederica, and their friends are at summer camp.  One girl, Peg, goes out of her way to be mean and nasty to everyone else.  A new girl named Laura joins the camp, and a boy who Peg likes immediately becomes interested in Laura.  Peg plays lots of nasty tricks on Laura.  Meanwhile, a mysterious wealthy lady, Mrs. Grimshaw, lives in a home near the lake.  Mrs. Grimshaw is reclusive, but she seems drawn to Laura.

This book is lacking.  The title refers to a boat race, but I never cared about that.  It also is unclear who the main character of the story is.  It seems that the entire group is of equal importance, but that makes the story less compelling.  Laura should have been the main character, but we get very little of her viewpoint.  Laura was the only character that I really liked, but I didn't get enough of her.

This book is just okay.

In Charlotte Cross and Aunt Deb, Charlotte is invited to go on a trip to Italy with Aunt Deb to look for the family treasure.  Soon after Charlotte's arrival at Aunt Deb's home, Aunt Deb is knocked unconscious when her head hits an attic rafter.  Aunt Deb wakes up paranoid, convinced that everyone knows about the treasure and is trying to take it away from them.  During the trip, Aunt Deb behaves outrageously and rudely, embarrassing Charlotte greatly.

Charlotte meets a nice young man during the trip, but Aunt Deb orders her to stay away from him, since she is certain that the man is after the treasure.  Charlotte feels like her life has been taken over by her aunt, and she wishes she could just leave and go home.

The beginning of the book is quite boring. The book opens with Charlotte and her roommate, and their entire conversation is uninteresting and pointless.

The story gets slightly better when Charlotte arrives at Aunt Deb's house, but the story does not become truly interesting until the two depart on the trip to Italy.  Once the trip begins, the book is excellent.

The story is wrapped up too easily, as I expected.  Aunt Deb goes crazy when she gets hit on the head shortly after the book begins.  I was not surprised that Aunt Deb gets hit on the head again near the end, and of course this cures her.

1 comment:

Albert Alioto said...

I have just read CHARLOTTE CROSS AND AUNT DEB and found it fascinating. I won't say it was perfect, but I very much got caught up in seeing it as something that would have exposed young readers in 1931 to the challenges of dealing with a difficult older person. I have no idea if that was Barton's principal intention, but must have been aware that it came out that way. It was noteworthy to me that we see some sign of Aunt Deb being confused -- expecting Charlotte to arrive the day after the arrival date she had written in her letter -- before the original blow on the head. Of course, the cure by the second blow on the head is preposterous, but by that time, Barton had won me over and I was willing to give her a pass. I think a reader would have to have a heart of stone not to empathize with Charlotte's dilemma of making the best of Aunt Deb turning the dream trip to Italy into a nightmare.