A Crooked Kind of Perfect
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A Crooked Kind of Perfect

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  8,666 ratings  ·  935 reviews
Ten-year-old Zoe Elias has perfect piano dreams. She can practically feel the keys under her flying fingers; she can hear the audience's applause. All she needs is a baby grand so she can start her lessons, and then she'll be well on her way to Carnegie Hall.

But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2007)
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A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda UrbanConfetti Girl by Diana LopezThe Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin DionneDeep Down Popular by Phoebe StonePippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
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15th out of 475 books — 480 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Betsy
Humor is just so hard in children's books. You either crash too hard on the adult side of the equation (see: The Manny Files) or you end up going too far the other direction and end up ridiculously scatological (see: Out of Patience). The balance has to be perfect and, if you want your book to be memorable, also work in some real emotion, heart, and (God help us all) learning. Because this mix is so difficult, you rarely end up with a book quite as pleasant as Linda Urban's "A Crooked Kind of Pe...more
Marjorie Ingall
Jun 20, 2009 Marjorie Ingall rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 4th to 6th graders, chicklit lovers, anyone who loves books about quirky girls
Recommended to Marjorie by: saw it in the library, liked the cover!
Shelves: girls-6-12
I adored this book. Hilarious, sad, suspenseful, and definitely quirky-odd-good.

Loved Zoe's resilience. She gets dumped by her best friend and is invited (by former friend's mom, who doesn't know of the dumpage, in the way that moms of 11-year-olds always know nothing) to former friend's party, where she is dressed wrong and brings the wrong gift. Ack! Who hasn't been there?? The portrayal of hyper-sophisticated, dismissive, clique-y, Bratz-wearing (called Brat here, mistakenly but amusingly ca...more
Colby Sharp
Sometimes authors write 5 star books, and sometimes authors are 5 star writers. Linda Urban is a 5 star writer.
Kate
This is a fantastic book for upper elementary and middle school kids who aren't ready to make that leap into high school issues and angst. It's a sweet, honest, funny story about a girl with grand piano dreams and a wheezy organ reality. This book makes music. It left me smiling, and humming along.
Jessica
This was just plain perfect!

In this little gem of a book, Zoe yearns to play the piano. She is sure that the minute her teacher hears her, she will be declared a prodigy and find herself on stage at Carnegie Hall. But Zoe has problems: her mom is a workaholic, her dad is an agoraphobic, her best friend doesn't want to be friends any more, and the school bully is hanging around her house baking cookies with her dad. To cap it off, when her dad ventures out to buy her a piano, he panics and instea...more
Carrie Gelson
You could describe this book as: "It's about a girl who plays the organ but really wants to play the piano." But . . . then you would be missing the vulnerability, the complexity of family, the power of people in your corner and the pure brilliance Linda Urban has with words on a page.
Abi
Linda Urban has the soul of a poet.

This is her first book, and its title exemplifies what I loved about it and her other novel, Hound Dog True; for me, this book also built upon and clarified that love.

Urban celebrates that crooked kind of perfect that makes up the most beautiful people and moments in our lives.

What about this book? (You may ask.) What happens in it?

Well, this book is about Zoe Elias, a 5th grade girl who wants to play piano. It is about her pursuit of that dream, the obstacles...more
Judith
This is such a charmer of a book, gentle and funny and completely satisfying. I love the understated way the dad's inability to deal with the world is handled (it's agoraphobia, actually), the growing friendship between Zoe and Wheeler Diggs and the way Zoe refuses to give in to the popular girls, even though she'd kind of like to. ("I have gone over to the dork side.")

The organ competition at the end is so perfectly observed: the swoosh-click of the swing door; that feeling you get when you kno...more
Lauren
This is not necessarily the type of book I would normally pick up, but the author is a former children's bookseller. That right there peaked my interest because as a children's bookseller I knew she had to have hundreds of children's books over the years and could easily tell a good one from a crappy one, which gave her an edge over a lot of authors. Plus, other children's booksellers that I know gave the book rave reviews. And they were right. It's just such a good story - great characters with...more
Kristen
Zoe Elias is a great protagonist. She deals with the unusual aspects of her life in a matter of fact and upbeat way.

So, you wanted to play the piano and ended up with a wheezy old organ? Master the organ and enter a competition!

So, your Dad is an agoraphobe incapable of holding a job or driving you places you need to go? Accept him for who he is and embrace his good qualities!

So, your workaholic Mom forgets your birthday entirely? Even though you're mad, you don't bring it up or hold it against...more
Jeana
It's sweet, endearing, & silly--that's why my 10-year-old daughter loves this book so much and has read it more times than I can count. It's very tender at the end (even I was crying when Zoe realized that the mom was happy about Zoe, not work) and I loved seeing everyone find happiness at the end.
Jaemi
Zoe Elias has grand dreams of being a pianist. For her, there is nothing better to be. She imagines evening gowns, audiences awaiting in anticipation, beautiful recitals, much adoration. So you can understand how, when her father comes home with a Perfectone D60 Organ, instead of her lovely piano, why she's a little upset. In fact, she's fairly sure this might be unforgivable.

But the organ came with free lessons, which she reluctantly agrees to take. Miss Person (read: Persaaahn) is not the worl...more
Brenda
My daughter and I finished reading A Crooked Kind of Perfect tonight, after she read it out loud to me every night. She is ten, and told me she wanted to take a break from Percy Jackson to read me this book "because I would love it". The characters in A Crooked Kind of Perfect are charming, unique and flawed, as we all are. I loved Zoe, the main character, and her outlook on life, as she "adapts" her dream to play a "wheezy organ" in place of a baby grand. Instead of classical music, she has to...more
Arminzerella
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Clarabel
Ce petit roman a été une agréable surprise. Il est drôle et très fin.
Il raconte l'histoire d'une fillette de dix ans qui rêve d'apprendre à jouer du piano et se retrouve avec un orgue. Enfin, il s'agit tout de même du Perfectone D-60 ! Pour Zoé qui rêvait de devenir la nouvelle Vladimir Horowitz et briller au Carnegie Hall, la désillusion est énorme. Toutefois, inutile de baisser les bras. Elle suit avec assiduité les cours de Mabelline Person, un prof particulier qui aime boire du Canada Dry b...more
Laura
What a great book for readers in grades 4 - 6! I put off reading this title because I had some idea that it was a mediocre read. And I was totally, thankfully wrong! Linda Urban writes with an authentic, snappy style that is so easy to get into. Zoe Elias wants, with her whole being, to be a piano prodigy but unfortunately, she doesn't have a piano. Instead, her father purchase an organ and Zoe ends up stuck taking lessons. She enters a Perform-O-Rama contest and learns a lot about herself, her...more
Samantha
As an adult reading this book, I wanted to delve far more deeply into the psychology of Zoe's parents. I wanted to know about their relationship, and whether her mother ever resented her father for his neuroses. But, as always when reading a children's book, I had to take out my adult brain and put in my ten year old's brain. And from that perspective, "A Crooked Kind of Perfect" was exactly that. (I know, I'm sure everyone has used that joke in their review.)

As a fourth or fifth grader, I like...more
Natalie  Harvey
I'm surprised by how much I liked this book. It has so much appeal to 4th/5th grade, maybe even 6th grade. The chapters are very short and nearly self-contained. It's witty. The characters are eccentric but in a way that's normal. Zoe is a ten year-old girl who desperately wants to be a prodigy pianist so she can play at Carnegie Hall. This is mostly her story - of learning to play the keyboard (pianos are too expensive) - but you also get to meet her parents and her friends. Her dad has a serio...more
Beth
The back of this book notes that this is a novel for ages 8 to 12. Well, I'm more than 8 to 12. I'm more than 8 *plus* 12. But then again, I watch Arthur and listen to High School Musical.

So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that I found A Crooked Kind of Perfect to be absolutely delightful. It had it all: good morals; quirky characters; and plenty of humor in the less-is-more (or should I say "Les is More"?), pun-filled writing. It had a fashion-backward, piano-loving protagonist who sometimes...more
msrouse
Just started reading last night and I'm almost done because I just couldn't put it down. A must read! I literally was laughing out loud about this crazy family. Zoe is ten-years old and has dreams of becoming a famous pianist. She has dreams of playing classics, wearing a tiara, and playing at Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous concert hall in the world. However her father ends up buying her an weezy organ instead. Zoe ends up playing old TV theme songs while her father whose to afraid to lea...more
Natalie Wright
A gem of a book for young girls, I'd rate age range from 8-13.
This is a tightly written 1st person narrative about a young girl who wants desperately to play piano but her dad gets an organ instead. With her upcoming organ contest as a backdrop, the reader is introduced to the protagonists world of a workaholic mother, OCD/phobia father, and her relationships with peers. I found the book quirky and different yet spot on in the portrayal of pre-teen relationships.
What I enjoyed the most though w...more
Ashlea
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brandy
I haven't heard a lot of buzz yet about Newbery contenders, but I'd say this is one of them. It's another quiet story with all the action being character development, without a lot of outside plot to muck it up. It's ostensibly a middle-grade novel, with a protagonist who is 10 years old (going on 11), but the book's appeal will be more for older teens or adults--readers who remember being that age, rather than readers who are that age.

That said, as an adult, this is a very good story--a girl c...more
Holly
Ten year old Zoe Elias is living in what I brilliantly saw described today in a review of See You at Harry's, a benignly dysfunctional family. Her dad has severe social anxiety and her mom is almost never home and always working. All Zoe wants is a piano, but she's stuck with a wood=grained, vinyl-seated, wheeze-bag organ: The Perfectone D-60. The story is told endearingly and houmorously from Zoe's point of view and includes a friendship with an odd boy, Wheeler, best friend tensions, and a pot...more
Linda
Sep 10, 2008 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: 3rd grade and up (and that means YOU)
Shelves: middle-grade-j
A complete charmer, with humor and depth. (How did this book not win big awards last year?) Zoe's Carnegie Hall dreams get derailed a bit when her father leases the Perfectone D-60 organ instead of the baby grand piano she really needs. So, Zoe secretly plays '70s TV theme songs on the organ, wears toe socks when nobody else in Michigan even wears socks any longer, and practices for the state organ Perform-o-Rama. Wonderful,unforgettable characters: Her comptroller mother works all the time and...more
Theresa Milstein
Awww. I thought I might give this a 4 until I got to the end, and now it's a 5.

Two weeks ago, I took a strengthening sentences workshop taught by Linda Urban at the NESCBWI conference. This wasn't a grammar class, but about how to make sentences sing. When she had a book signing, I bought A Crooked Kind of Perfect.

It's a really sweet book. My eight-year-old daughter will get this next to read.

Zoe wants a piano. She wants a mom who doesn't work so hard. She wants a dad who isn't scared of people...more
Samantha
Zoe wants really bad to learn how to play the piano and become an amazing player,but when her dad goes to the store to get her a piano he gets distracted by too many people and buys her an organ instead. Zoe gets a teacher and learns how to play it after 7 weeks she is so good her teacher decides to put her in a competition and see if she can win a trophy.

I thought this book was okay it was kind of boring,but my favorite part was the ending.

I would recommend this book it was pretty good I wou...more
Christina
A sweet, funny story -- best for for grades 4-6 -- about ten year-old Zoe, a girl who dreams of owning a piano, being recognized as a prodigy, and playing Carnegie Hall. Although the book's tone remains light and hopeful throughout, Zoe's odd assortment of woes include a workaholic mother who misses her birthday, a father who gets anxious when he leaves the house, and music lessons on a cheesy electronic keyboard instead of the beautiful piano of her dreams. This book reminded me of Emma Jean La...more
Rosalyn
The title of Linda Urban's debut novel is pretty much perfect: the novel is a charming story about ten-year-old Zoe who yearns to play the piano because it's an elegant, sophisticated instrument--what she gets instead is a Perfectone D-60 organ (a substitution which may well be the perfect metaphor for her life). Though she loves her parents, she wishes that her agoraphobic father might venture out more without getting lost, and that her work-driven mother might be a little more available. She a...more
Megan S
Personally I don't think that the way the author, Linda Urban, laid out the book was very efficient, for some chapters were only one paragraph to a sentence. But I do think that the overall content of the book was extremely, wonderful. I did enjoy the meaning of this story and how it portrays the idea of persistency and determination. A girl at the age 10/11 has a dream of playing the piano, with the suspense at the beginning, the (good)effect the music has on the people listening, and the enorm...more
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last one to post is the winner!!!! 28 18 Feb 13, 2014 08:58AM  
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This was from the About Me section at Linda Urban's website.


I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in a suburban house that looked like all the others on my street. Sometimes I liked that sameness. It made me feel normal, when I worried I wasn’t.

Other times, though, I wanted to be different — to shine, to have people see me as special. I tried ballet dancing and singing and playing musical in...more
More about Linda Urban...
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“I told Dad about yesterday...I told him how I made all those mistakes.
'But you kept on playing?' Dad said. His eyes got wide when he said it. I could tell he was proud.
'Everybody does,' I said. 'You can't just get up and walk away every time you mess up. You'd never get anywhere.”
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“Never trust an exclamation point.” 14 likes
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