In one of the initial scenes Cleo's teacher, Mr. Boring, rebukes her for not focusing on their language arts lesson. Cleo admits that she can't imagine how metaphors or similes could be useful. Mr. Boring points out she used a metaphor in the ad copy for her passion clips. Like an inside joke, for the rest of the book Sundee Frazer sprinkles flavorful similes and metaphors into Cleo's thoughts and speech. For example, when Cleo thinks about another girl who became quickly popular she thinks, "The girl was all whipped cream and no pudding."
Although this is a book about how Cleo translates her passion for hair clips into big sales, it is equally about Cleo wanting to find her birth parents.
Her parents loved her. A lot. And yet lately she'd felt a growing desire to know more about her birth parents. To have a relatives list of her own. To see herself in her family. To have some clues about what she might look like all grownup. (p.73)The author uses an apt simile to describe Cleo's feelings about her adoption:
She had her parents. But something else--a gnawing, like hunger, except it wasn't in her stomach--told her that something was missing. She just wanted to know: Did they [her birth parents] remember her, wonder about her too? (p.82)Cleo comes up with a foolproof plan to find her birth mom. She'll become a "kidpreneur" on Fortune's show, her birth mom will see her and contact her. When her mother warns against getting her hopes up too high,
Cleo lets the words slide off her like grease on a non-stick pan. She was a seed in dirt, a dog chasing a scent, a dentist with a scaler! Nothing--not even her overly cautious mom--could stop her from trying to reach Fortune. (p.107)Despite anxiety over meeting her birth father, she tells him, "I'm a girl with big dreams who won't let anything stop her. I may be young, I may be small, but I'm as persistent as the Itsy-Bitsy Spider." Her birth father gets a funny look on his face and she's worried that she said something wrong until he says, "That's exactly how I was when I was your age."
Suddenly, she was flinging her arms around his middle and hugging him as hard as she could. His arms hovered above her, then slowly he embraced her, ...and the feeling of her birth dad's arms around her mingled together and became a memory she would never forget--a coin in the piggy bank of herself that she would never, ever spend. (p. 228)And even though Cleo never appears on Fortune's television show, the ending leaves the reader with a satisfied smile. I have just two points of critique. As much as I enjoyed this fast-paced contemporary novel, I would have liked if better if Caylee, Cleo's "business partner" was a little more developed and provided more push-back. It seemed as if Caylee was always hard at work creating the passion clips and worried over Cleo taking on more orders than they could manage--but there didn't appear to be consequences of Cleo's choice to turn over the majority of the "manufacturing" to her best friend. Similarly, Cleo spends a lot of class and homework time daydreaming about her business passions without any consequences to her grades.
This book will entertain the lower middle grade crowd and I have a paperback copy to give away. (My apologies in advance; the book arrived from the publisher with creases in the cover.) Leave me a comment by May 26 and your email address if you are new to my blog, and I'll enter your name in the giveaway. It would be a great book for your daughter, granddaughter, or to add to your classroom library.