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A Crooked Kind of Perfect

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  12,297 ratings  ·  1,186 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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  12,297 ratings  ·  1,186 reviews

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Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Marjorie Ingall
Oct 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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!
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
Jessica (The Psychotic Nerd)
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

I originally picked up this book because of the cover. It may be obvious by my profile picture, but I LOVE striped socks. I honestly had no idea what this book was about. Just the fact that it's middle grade.

Turns out, this book is about Zoe. A ten (almost eleven) year old who wants to play the piano and dreams of playing at Carnegie Hall. But her Dad accidentally picks up a old organ instead.

What I liked about this book was
Colby Sharp
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-novel
Sometimes authors write 5 star books, and sometimes authors are 5 star writers. Linda Urban is a 5 star writer.
Aug 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Kennedyf froehlich
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this book was good but I like these kinds of books so that's probably why I give them good reviews. This book is about a girl named Zoe who sooooooo desperately wants to get a piano and be a professional. But instead she gets a wheezy organ. Her friend kind of breaks up there friendship so she ends up with the boys. ...more
This was a quick, easy read. The main character, Zoe Elias, is adorable. She's only in 5th grade but she has it in her heart that she wants to be a child prodigy pianist. Problem is, she has no piano. So when she asks her parents to buy her one, her father goes out and gets her something to learn on but it's not a piano. Instead, her father gets her a Perfectone D-60. She's not all that happy with it, but it's something.

She ends up taking lessons but her lessons include a folded up keyboard so
Jessica Cruz
Oct 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
***SPOILER ALERT*** Have you ever wished for something and got the completely opposite of what you actually wanted? According to what I have read the genre is realistic fiction. Its realistic fiction because most of this story can actually happen. I like this book because its funny, and also sad.

This book is about a young girl named Zoe. A ten year old going on to eleven years who dreams of playing the piano and wishes playing at Carnegie Hall. But her dad mistakenly picks up an old organ inste
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. ...more
Jenna Buss
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a cute, quick read about a resilient girl who realizes that even though you may not be achieving your dreams, you might be achieving something better.
I enjoyed Zoe's never-give-up attitude and those who supported her every step of the way. The descriptive details made me feel like I was a part of the story through every step of Zoe's journey in her world that was a crooked kind of perfect.
Even though I don't play an instrument, I still felt the amazing effect playing had on Zoe, which
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middlegrade
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
Ellie Vinehout
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ever since Zoe was little, she had always dreamed about being a perfect pianist. What was not to like? Going to a big fancy ballroom with everyone watching you play sit with silence and astonishment, you're fingers gliding across the little black and white keys, making it seem like you're in a whole other world. Zoe believes that when she gets an organ her dream will never come true, especially when her used-to-be best friend gets a grand piano for her birthday and sells it for a DJ set. Will Zo ...more
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Estelle Laure
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book 6 stars! I wasn't prepared for this level of depth from what looks to be a cute middle grade. But it's so much more than that. With its word play and humor, you could easily overlook the fact that it's dealing with phobias and mental illness in the most brilliant and accessible way possible. MORE STARS! ...more
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it

Linda Urban has a knack for making us see the wonder in small things. I loved Zoe's story and her humor asshe learns to play the organ and cope with her parents.
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 3rd-grade-level
Just reread this cute book. I think I loved it even more the second time!
Apr 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Grace Bunge
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't my favorite. I didn't like that the plot of the story was kinda boring. I like books that have a little bit more interesting of a plot and make me want to read all the time. I started reading this book last year but I got bored and couldn't finish it. I decided to read it again this year and it wasn't my least favorite book but it also wasn't my favorite. I liked how the author made the conflicts of the story relatable yet different. The author made the conflicts change the whol ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
My 10 yr old son and I read this together for a school competition. It's short and quick. In his words: "This is my favorite one so far. I liked that I could relate to the story and the ending wasn't cheesy."

I think my son could relate to the main character's (Zoe) struggle to learn to play a new instrument (he plays piano). Zoe is cute. I like her authentic voice and what she observes about people and their behavior. I like that it's a story about finding friendship in unexpected places, trying
Erica T
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens, 2019-bob
This is another book I read for the BOB competition. It's a sweet story about a ten year old who has dreams of playing the piano, but whose dad buys an organ instead. She makes the most of her organ lessons, while also dealing with her dad's agrophobia, her mom's overworking and thus not being home much, and issues with old friends and new friends. I'm sure my 6th grader is going to really like this one. ...more
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a very cute book!
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008
This was a nice little book about Zoe, who wants a piano, dreaming of Carnegie Hall, and gets an organ from her eccentric father. There’s a great friendship with Wheeler, and a quirky organ teacher who recognizes talent in Zoe’s organ playing.
Tobreth Hansen
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best kids books I have read - would likely make a great read aloud. I loved the characters, the quirks, the format. Just GREAT!
Reading Relish
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miranda Potratz
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading the book “A Crooked Kind of Perfect” by Linda Urban. This book was sad in places. I remember being that age and not always fitting in. Emma lives in a small house with an abnormal family. They do not have much money. Her mom works a lot. Her dad has anxiety problems. He does like to bake. Zoe does get an organ and months of organ lessons. She chooses a song by Neil Diamond called “Forever in Blue Jeans”. Wheeler Digs is a boy she knows who follows her home from school. She shar ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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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

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
59 likes · 9 comments
“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.”
“Never trust an exclamation point.” 18 likes
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