Thursday, December 01, 2011

Smiles to Go

Dudes play Monopoly, hang out and skateboard. Little sister gets in the way. Best friend has crazy family. Friend manages to do the impossible and skate down Dead Man's Hill. A Proton dies, meaning the earth may end. A girl kisses a boy. A girl has already been asked to a dance, before a boy can ask her. A boy goes to a chess tournament, and is on track to win it all, but then...

The little sister has disappeared. She, inspired by the friend, tries to skate down Dead Man's Hill. Only, she is not so talented, and takes a very nasty fall. In the hospital, she is in an induced coma, and looks absolutely miserable. Her brother then discovered that the little sister really admires and respects him, though in her own special way. She was longing for him to "pass the pebble" as part of the elementary school tradition. She his favorite black jelly beans to give to him later as a gift. (He had thought she had just been throwing them out.) And meanwhile, the girl decides that she will not go to the dance because of all that has happened. Eventually the little sister comes out, and everybody lives happily ever after.

Smiles to Go is warm-weather, slightly younger version of Who Put the Hair in My Toothbrush. Swap out skateboards with ice hockey, make the kids a little younger, and add a little bit about protons and Monopoly and you have this book. (I liked Hairbrush better.)

The proton stuff still seems a little random. It allows for a dichotomy between "proton destroyed, universe ending" and "dude skated down dead man's hill!". For teenagers, the immediate is much more important than the billion years into the future. It also helps bring out the nerdiness of the chess-champion, monopoly-loving brother.

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