Kevin Craig's Reviews > Small Medium at Large

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy
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Aug 10, 12

bookshelves: reviewed
Read from August 03 to 08, 2012

This review is from my book review blog: http://trythisbookonforsize.blogspot.ca

It has been a while since I read a middle grade novel…at least a few months. My first thoughts on Small Medium at Large were; kid-friendly, a delight to read, fun and funny, well written in a great age-appropriate voice and, well…FUN (It bears repeating).

Lilah Bloom is 12. She comes from a broken family (that term really needs to be refreshed—a lot of families these days are not so much broken, as they are realigned). As the story opens, we are at Lilah’s mother’s wedding. Everything is going well until the real fun is about to begin—the dancing. At the outdoor reception, Lilah is literally on the threshold of the temporary dance-floor when the skies darken and a tempest brews.

This is when Lilah is struck by lightning!

Thankfully, she makes a speedy recovery. No lasting damage, but a challenging new talent. Lilah becomes aware of disembodied voices. Levy has written these voices so tremendously well that the reader can sense she had a blast bringing this story to life. What must have been a difficult task for Levy was keeping a story like this so utterly kid-friendly. With humour, excellent characters, friendly and mischievous—but by no means dark—ghosts, and a plot that could stand on its own without the supernatural element, Levy accomplishes this in spades!

Throughout the course of the story, the reader is introduced to several ghost characters. One of the delightful things I found about these characters is that they were actually so well portrayed I could envision what each of them looked like, even though, obviously, there were no physical descriptions to speak of. We have Lilah’s Bubby Dora (her grandmother), Prissy LaFontaine (fashion icon extraordinaire), Mr. Finkel (Andrew Finkel’s father—Andrew being the boy that Lilah is head over heels for) and also watch for the young boy ghost Lilah runs into in her school.

There are some truly delightful scenes in this book, scenes that will make your middle grade reader giggle and totally relate to. Keep your eye out for the bra shopping scene and slumber party—truly authentic! Also, there are some great father/daughter scenes with Lilah and her dad—funny, poignant and powerful scenes (also funnily awkward scenes as Lilah and Dad discuss his new dating life).

A sign of a great middle grade book is its ability to resolve the issues of the main characters without coming off as too cheesy or predictable. Small Medium at Large does this. There are plenty of things going on in this story. Levy deals with bullying, divorce, death, first crushes, jealousy—you name it. Her ability to tie up all the threads in a satisfactory way is astonishing. Perhaps one of my favourite threads was the one with Lilah and her grade eight nemesis, ‘Dolly’ Madison. Of course, Dolly was going to be the bully of the story—she’s far superior to Lilah and her friends, being as she’s in grade eight and they’re mere grade sevens. Thankfully, though, Levy played this thread perfectly. Another sign of a great middle grade story is that not all bad characters are all bad and not all good characters are all good. I’m confident readers will love the way this thread plays out. I won’t go into details—as I don’t want to give away any spoilers—but sometimes help comes from the most unlikely of places.

If you have a young reader in your life, share this book with them! I’m sure it will become an instant favourite for them. Lilah’s a good kid—they’re gonna love her!
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