Reviews for Moving Day

Booklist Reviews 2008 June #1
Nine-year-old Allie faces her world with humor and common sense by making a list of rules to live by. Each rule (often presented as a chapter heading) has a story behind it. Rule # 1: Don't Stick a Spatula Down Your Best Friend's Throat evolves from the terrible fight between Allie and wimpy, weepy Mary Kay. Other rules come about after Allie finds out that the family is moving across town to a creepy Victorian house (she tries her best to sabotage the plans). A prize cat, a stolen turtle, two younger brothers, and a willing coconspirator  in the form of an uncle all play a part in the antics as adventures unfold. Lively Allie is an appealing heroine who has an uncanny knack for getting into (and out of) scrapes with friends and family. The talented Cabot, popular with both teen and adult readers, will attract a new, younger audience with this novel, which will surely leave readers looking forward to future installments. One note: the fold-out-to-poster-size dust jacket may pose a problem for libraries. Look for a review of the audiobook version on p. 124. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2008 March
For younger fans of 'The Princess Diaries,' a series all their own

Meg Cabot is an excellent example of the wisdom of hanging on to childhood diaries. Sure, they're embarrassing, but if Cabot's track record is any indication, they might also be fiction-fodder gold.

The prolific Cabot is perhaps best known for her Princess Diaries series (the ninth book was published in January) and the two Disney movies based on the books. She has also written several other series for young readers, including the Mediator and 1-800-Where-Are-You books, as well as chick-lit titles for adults.

Speaking from her home in Key West, Cabot says she decided to write her new series for middle-grade readers, Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls, because she had a treasure trove of her own journals just waiting to be plumbedand she was meeting so many little girls who loved the Princess Diaries movies (rated G) but weren't allowed to read the (decidedly non-G-rated) books.

"It seems like the little sisters of Princess Diaries readers were waiting around. That age group needs a girl they can relate to," she says. "That's why [my editor] and I were like, we have to address this market."

Enter Allie Finkle, a sweet, smart fourth-grader who shares her rules for living in funny diary entries that chronicle what it's like to be a kid with a manipulative best friend (Mary Kay, who knows how to use tears to her advantage), a fondness for geodes and parents who insist on moving out of a perfectly nice house into a possibly haunted one.

In book one of the series, Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls:Moving Day,Allie records the rules as she learns them; they range from icky, such as "Don't Get a Pet That Poops in Your Hand," to poignant: "When You Finally Figure Out What the Right Thing to Do Is, You Have to Do It, Even If You Don't Want To." It's hard to argue with either of those, or the rest of Allie's rules, all of which offer wisdom and a touch of hilarity.

Cabot says Allie's experiences are drawn from her own diaries. "I actually did move in the middle of the school year in fourth gradeit was very traumatic. In the next book, Allie faces a bully, a girl who stalks her at school and threatens to beat her up, and Allie has to live with the fearful anticipation. That happened to me, too."

The college town Cabot grew up in, Bloomington, Indiana, informed the Allie Finkle books' backdrop, though the author says she chose not to name a town in the series. "I really wanted kids to be able to think it's their town," she says, "though I now realize that by mentioning geodes, I've narrowed it down to a few states. It turns out they're not everywhere!"

In addition to a healthy geode collection, Allie has a voice that is genuine and convincingthe way she thinks and reacts to things will feel familiar to readers who are around her age or remember being so (the book also might be helpful to parents who are mystified by their children's behavior). "Fourth grade is ingrained in my memory in a really unhealthy way," Cabot says, explaining how she managed to channel nine-year-old Allie so well.

A few girls Cabot knows provided inspiration, too. A group of nine-year-old girls lives down the street; they've become friends since Cabot and her husband moved to Key West from Manhattan in 2005. "I've been observing them and their drama. It ends in tears so much of the time," she says. There is creativity and unwitting humor, too: "They just had a fashion show for me that was totally hilarious. They wore pirate boots from Halloween, tutus, Christmas elf earrings, purses, fingerless gloves. They were totally serious about it, and I just loved it."

Cabot worries, though, that if Allie seems too familiar to her neighborhood pals, she'll lose her backstage access to the girls' adventures. "I'm really hoping they don't get BookPage!" she frets.

Perhaps the girls will be too busy reading the Allie series to notice this interview. The second book in the series is due out in October, and Cabot just turned in the manuscript for book three. "I want girls to get to know Allie," she says, noting that the series will publish in March and October this year, with a year break, followed by two more books in 2010.

The author is also busy with book tours, writing her blog at and visiting schools. "I love doing that. Kids are so funny, and they always want to talk about how they can get published. They all want to be writers," she says.

A word to the wise: Hang on to those diaries, kids!

Linda M. Castellitto still has all of her diaries. She often thinks about using them for inspiration, but can't bring herself to reread them just yet. Copyright 2008 BookPage Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Fall
Nine-year-old Allie Finkle keeps a list of rules; she likes their predictability. But sometimes knowing the rules doesn't help--for example, when your best friend cries too much and when your parents decide to leave your nice, normal house to fix up an old, spooky Victorian across town. A breezy writing style and spirited leading lady help buoy the story. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 January #1
Like every other kid lately, nine-year-old Allie Finkle is developing her list of rules for friendships, school situations, family and overall life. Dos and don'ts for any newly minted tween can get pretty complicated when an already unsettling relationship with a so-called best friend is augmented by one's parents' decision to sell their comfortable suburban dwelling and move to an un-renovated Victorian-style, 100-year-old gloomy and possibly haunted house in the city. And, what about the new (really old and crowded) school and a fourth grade filled with unfriendly faces? Allie is stressed but decides to take charge by hatching a scheme to prevent the sale of her suburban house and thus, the move. Cabot's endearing, funny and clever protagonist will have readers simultaneously chuckling and commiserating as succeeding chapters introduce individual "rules" for Allie to contemplate and accept. Lessons on friendship and fickleness, sneaky behavior, lying, animal cruelty and theft (although paying for a "rescued" pet turtle that was never for sale may raise some eyebrows) merge to create a humorous and heartwarming story. Allie's first-person voice is completely believable with just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek wit. Despite the now-overdone rules concept, readers will eagerly await Allie's next installment in her new home, school and neighborhood. (Fiction. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2008 August/September
Fans of Junie B., Judy Moody, Ramona, and Clementine take note. Allie is a fourth grader who writes down her rules to make life easier. When Allie's parents announce that the family will be moving soon, Allie is determined to prevent the move. Upper grade girls will identify with Allie's frustrations caused by hypersensitive friends and find the bickering, cattiness, and whining all too real. Nevertheless, the story contains humorous moments. While Allie is an interesting character and the story ends satisfactorily, she is not as memorable as the series characters mentioned above. Allie needs more than a list of rules to pull her life together. Hopefully successive books will broaden her horizons and make her more memorable. Additional Selection. Daniel R. Beach, Teaching Librarian, Concord Elementary, Anderson, South Carolina ¬ 2008 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 February #3


Reviewed by Rachel Vail

In Cabot's (the Princess Diaries) first foray into novels for kids who are still in single digits, her trademark frank humor makes for compulsive reading--as always. The first installment of a new series presents a nine-year-old girl attempting to impose rules for living on her increasingly complex world. Allie is funny, believable and plucky (of course; all girls are plucky, at least in books), but most of all, and most interestingly, Allie is ambivalent.

As the book starts, Allie learns that her family is moving across town. It is a mark of Cabot's insight to understand that, to a nine-year-old, a car ride's separation from the world she has known makes that distance as vast as the universe. Allie will be enrolled in a different elementary school, and will therefore be that most hideous thing: the new kid. To make matters worse, the Finkle family will be moving to a dark, old, creaky Victorian, which, Allie becomes convinced, has a zombie hand in the attic. Moving will mean leaving behind not only her geode collection but also her best friend. And here is where the story deepens. Allie's best friend is difficult. She cries easily and always insists on getting her own way. To keep the peace, Allie makes rules for herself, often after the fact, to teach herself such important friendship truisms as Don't Shove a Spatula Down Your Best Friend's Throat.

Mary Kate is the kind of best friend anybody would want to shove a spatula down the throat of, is the thing.

As Allie marshals her energies to fight the move in increasingly desperate ways, sophisticated readers may well conclude ahead of Allie that the friends she is meeting at the new school are more fun and better for her than spoiled Mary Kate and the cat-torturer, Brittany Hauser. Coming to this realization on their own, however, is part of the empowering fun. Told from the distinctive perspective of a good-hearted, impulsive, morally centered kid, this is a story that captures the conflicted feelings with which so many seemingly strong nine-year-olds struggle.

Ambivalence is uncomfortable. It is also a sign of growing up.

Early elementary school is all about primary colors, where rules, imposed by adults, are clear guidelines to good behavior and getting along. The more complex hues of the second half of elementary school, when complicated friendship dynamics begin to outpace the adult-imposed rules of home and school, leave many kids floundering and confused. In the character Allie Finkle, Cabot captures this moment of transition and makes it feel not just real, but also fun, and funny.

Rachel Vail's forthcoming novel, Lucky (HarperTeen, May), is the start of a trilogy about three sisters.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 June

Gr 3-5-- At first, nine-year-old Allie Finkle seems rather unlikable. She's hard on her best friend (who is very quick to tears) and acts bratty when her parents tell her the family will be moving. And even though she's promised a kitten, and prefers her new school and the more engaging friend she'll have next door once they move, she's determined to sabotage the event. However, the girl's worries are nuanced and age-appropriate. By the book's end Allie does show a more caring side, even though her methods are not always appreciated by the adults around her. Chapters all begin with one of Allie's rules ("Don't Stick a Spatula Down Your Best Friend's Throat," or "When You Finally Figure Out What the Right Thing to Do Is, You Have to Do It, Even If You Don't Want To") that, while amusing, may quickly become tiresome for some readers. With good intentions and reckless results, Allie will appeal to children who enjoyed reading about Ramona, Amber Brown, Junie B., and the other feisty girls found in beginning chapter books. This novel proves that the master of young adult popular fare is able to adapt her breezy style for a younger audience.--Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA

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