Canadian Children's Book Centre's Reviews > The McGillicuddy Book of Personal Records

The McGillicuddy Book of Personal Records by Colleen Sydor
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Sep 27, 11

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Attaining a new personal record is about the only thing that can make Lee McGillicuddy feel talented. Even pesky neighbour Rhonda is good at something. All Lee’s got going for him are two mothers, three names and one dog, Santiago. Even a new friendship with star soccer player Slang isn’t enough to prevent Lee from drooping into depression, especially after he concludes how unspecial his personal records are. But when it’s up to him to hang on to the thread of Rhonda’s life — just about literally — Lee realizes his records may have made him into exactly what he’s meant to be.

Each chapter opens with a quote that is clearly relevant, ranging in subject from success to mothers to canines. Point of view shifts are marked with movie language (“And… cut to boy”), often bringing out some welcome humour. An excessive use of italics and slang detract from the writing, but not from the story. Lee’s character is defined by his choice of quotes and by his mood swings; in third person, his way of thinking is well-voiced. The cast of secondary characters multiplies slowly, allowing the primary characters their spotlights and taking the time to develop the minor characters more thoroughly. Even though the first half of the novel focuses more on Lee’s personal growth and interior development, his ups and downs with life move the story forward and set up the roots of his friendship with Rhonda. The movie motif makes a real-live cameo at the finish of the novel and leaves readers with the warm fuzzy feeling that not all personal records are futile.

Reviewed by Yahong Chi in Canadian Children's Book News (Spring 2011, Vol. 34, No. 2)

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