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The Lonely Hearts Club
Book
2010
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Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

It's hard not to get caught up in this good-natured revenge fantasy: What if you got back at a boy who dumped you by (1) swearing off all boys for the rest of high school, and (2) getting a surprising number of popular girls to go along? Penny, who shares her parents' dorky obsession with the Beatles, starts the Lonely Hearts Club, and soon the meetings hardly fit in her basement. Romantic adventures ensue, and readers won't care if they are a bit tidily resolved and result in a completely boy-crazy plot (weren't we supposed to be over that?). THE BORED BOOK By David Michael Slater. Illustrated by Doug Keith. Simply Read. $16.95. (Ages 5 and up) This wordless book begins perfectly, with an image of two bored siblings fighting on the sofa in Grandfather's study while he looks on morosely. Then he opens a secret door leading to a cobwebby attic where a mysterious tome awaits: like characters in a wittier version of the Magic Tree House series, the brother and sister fall through the pages and into perilous adventures involving snow monsters and pirates. We get the message, and so do they. THE HUMBLEBEE HUNTER Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children. By Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Jen Corace. Disney-Hyperion. $16.99. (Ages 4 to 8) Hopkinson frames her charming if slender story around a historical fact: the way Darwin's children helped him collect specimens and make observations, frequently in the family's own gardens. Here Darwin's daughter Henrietta helps him count the flowers one "humblebee," or bumblebee, can visit in a minute: 21. It's a lovely reminder for modern children of how much there is to notice just outside the window. LITTLE CLOUD AND LADY WIND By Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster. $16.99. (Ages 4 to 8) Qualls's gorgeous acrylic, collage and colored-pencil drawings set the tone for this tale, loosely based on the same idea as Aesop's "Bundle of Sticks": many are stronger than one. At first, "This Little Cloud" drifts alone, "not wanting to blend into a group" or "join the other clouds" in scaring Earth. But in the end Lady Wind teaches her how much she's a part of everything, even on her own. A lulling, maternal take on the simplest of stories. WOODS RUNNER By Gary Paulsen. Wendy Lamb. $15.99. (Ages 12 and up) Paulsen's talent for scene-setting, especially in an exciting wilderness drama, is paired here with a vivid story of the American Revolution. Samuel lives in the British colony of Pennsylvania in 1776; at 13, he's an expert hunter and tracker. He needs those skills when his parents are captured by British soldiers in a violent attack; to rescue them, he follows their trail deep into enemy territory. The story is instantly involving; less effective are curious single-page history lessons that break it up (with headings like "Frontier Life" and "War Orphans"). NIGHT LIGHTS Written and illustrated by Susan Gal. Knopf. $14.99. (Ages 4 to 8) A darkly lit and rhythmic bedtime story that could also provide early reading help: it's good to get used to those tricky "night" and "light" words that don't sound at all the way they look. The sun has already gone down when a "streetlight," "headlight" and "porch light" provide all the light there is a smalltown neighborhood. If Gal's charcoal drawings didn't look so homey, the atmosphere would be almost spooky - but she also wisely puts in a smiling pooch having a dog-biscuit cake by "candlelight." The story ends just right with "good night." JULIE JUST

  Booklist Review

After a devastating betrayal by the boy she thought she was destined to be with forever, Penny Lane Bloom (who fortunately inherited her parents' love of the Beatles to go with her name) swears off guys and quietly starts the Lonely Hearts Club. To her surprise, many of her girlfriends are also sick of high-school guys and want to join even Diane, Penny's former best friend and one-half of the school's power couple until a recent, amicable breakup. The club grows and becomes an influential social force as members meet every Saturday night, go to dances together, and support one another in their academic and extracurricular pursuits. But conflict arises when the school administration fears the group is getting too powerful and making the boys feel bad, and Penny finds herself torn between her no-boy pledge and the courteous advances of one of the nicest guys she knows who happens to be Diane's ex-boyfriend. This first novel will be a draw for readers looking for an upbeat take on friendship, empowerment, and finding romance without losing yourself.--Booth, Heather Copyright 2010 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

In a spirited, feminist debut, musician Eulberg traces the resilience of a 16-year-old suburban high-school junior who turns her disappointment in love into a happy affirmation of autonomy and friendship. When Penny Lane Bloom is jilted, she turns for solace to the only guys who have never broken her heart: John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Tired of the boy runaround, Penny starts the Lonely Hearts Club, devoted to "the benefits of being single," with herself as the only member. Soon, however, the other girls at McKinley High School join with enthusiasm (and some occasional cattiness), like Diane Monroe, the once-clingy arm fixture of star athlete Ryan Bauer, now destined for the basketball team. Swearing off boys might be a beautiful notion, but it's short-lived, as even Penny is tempted by Ryan, and the school principal fears a boys' backlash. The dialogue-heavy adventure addresses tender teen concerns of conformity versus self-preservation, but the formulaic plotting doesn't lift this effort above the rest, despite the mildly amusing Beatles gimmick. (Fiction. 14 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating, so she vows: No more. She's had one too many bad dates, and has been hurt by one too many bad boys.It's a personal choice... and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. It's about much more than romance gone awry--it's also about the way girls bend over backward to get guys, and how they end up prioritizing boyfriends over real friends. Penny thinks she might be crazy for saying these things--but soon a few other girls are inspired, and a movement is born.Girls are soon thronging to The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the Sgt. Pepper's band) and Penny finds herself near legendary for her nondating ways--which is too bad, since the leader of The Lonely Hearts Club has found a certain boy she can't help but like...
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