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Pish Posh

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About the Author

Ellen Potter lives with her husband and young son in upstate New York. She is the author of the OLIVIA KIDNEY books and has also published an adult novel.


Potter's (the Olivia Kidney books) latest fetchingly outlandish caper introduces the amusingly uppity Clara Frankofile, whose parents own the title Manhattan restaurant, catering to "glittery and fabulous" customers. Alas, not all of them make it through their haute cuisine meals. Each night 11-year-old Clara-wearing a simple black dress and dark glasses-sits at a table, eyeing the diners to determine who qualifies as a "Nobody" and must be banished from the fine eating establishment. When the young snob callously evicts an elderly doctor, a patron since Pish Posh's opening, his parting words distress the girl: "You have failed to notice a most peculiar and mysterious thing that is happening right under your nose." A brooding Clara returns to her penthouse apartment, where rooms have enticing themes (there's a State Fair Room, a Day at the Beach Room, a Haunted House Room, etc.), and retires to the Tree Climbing Room. From her treetop perch she spies a girl on the roof, hiding from police. This is Annabelle, who is an apprentice to her jewel thief father. As strong-willed and sharp-tongued as Clara, she adds an extra jolt of energy and humor to the story. The two team up to solve the mystery mentioned by the doctor. Readers will turn these pages quickly and, at the tale's satisfying end, may well hope that Clara, like Olivia Kidney, will have a follow-up adventure. Ages 9-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Gr 4-6-Clara Frankofile is a pompous, snobbish 11-year-old who spends her evenings people-watching from a corner table in her parents' chic New York City restaurant, Pish Posh. She has the unique ability to determine which members of society's upper crust are no longer worthy to dine at the fashionable establishment. When Clara banishes a kindly but washed-up eye surgeon, he tells her that a peculiar mystery is unfolding right under her very nose. This revelation leads to Clara's improbable alliance with a cunning 12-year-old jewel thief, and together they embark on a perilous adventure that leads to the uncovering of a 200-year-old secret. Attempts at whimsy fail in this overly ambitious novel that tries to cover too much ground to achieve any real substance. Clara is insufferable from any perspective, and even with a seemingly endless cast of secondary characters, it is difficult to find anyone to applaud or admire. The story teems with frivolity, yet contains incongruous elements of cruelty and gruesomeness, resulting in a disjointed tale for which the target audience is unclear. Readers looking for a wonderful book of adventure and triumph of the downtrodden over the social elite should try SF Said's Varjak Paw (Random, 2003).-Debbie Lewis O'Donnell, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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