Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Property of Simon & Schuster

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, July 2007
Hardcover, 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1416916229
ISBN-13: 9781416916222
Grades: 7 and up

When Angela cuts off her hair, changes her name to Grady, and begins to live as a boy, her family and friends have trouble accepting the change.

Description:  Ellen Wittlinger's style of writing is easy to read.  Her descriptions are short, vivid and worked so well in, one can barely tell they are there.  I love they way everything moves the story along.  There no distractions, no boring parts and nothing I wanted to skip.  Every detail mattered. (Score: 10/10)  

Narrative:  Parrotfish is one of those books that place you directly in the  main character's head.  Everything Grady sees, hears and feels is conveyed to the reader in a heartfelt way.  Some parts of the book contain quite a bit of narrative but it envelops the reader. (Score: 10/10) 

Dialogue:  I am in love with Grady's voice.  The character is so grounded that I felt calmer when he spoke, even during times of high emotion.  To be able to write about one feeling and evoke another in the reader takes some amazing talent.  It's no wonder Ellen Wittlinger has won awards.  Her writing style is so engaging that the whole book spoke to me.  (Score:10/10)

Characterization:  My favorite part of reading Parrotfish was getting to know the characters.  Everyone is different yet so balanced in the story.  It was amazing to me how the main character grew but I believe everyone else grew so much more.  In learning the craft, I've struggled with showing the main character's growth, but Ellen was able to make it happen even in the secondary characters.  Pretty amazing, I have to say. (Score: 10/10)

Resolution:  I found the climax and resolution very interesting.  I couldn't predict this ending, yet I doubt it's plausibility a little.  (But then again, I don't come from the same type of family Grady does.)  This book left me with chills and a sense of calm yearning.  I don't need more to this story, but I want it.  The ending was very complete, yet open the way I like it.  There's room for more, yet it's so very satisfying and inspiring. (Score: 10/10)

My twenty one year old niece recommended I read this book.  Before this, I'd never heard of Ellen Wittlinger.  What interested me most was that she lives in in my area of the world.  So, I followed her on Facebook.  And then groupie stalked her at New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (NECBWI) mostly for my niece and dear friend Cybele.

Cybele, Ellen Wittlinger, Lorettajo at NESCBWI regional conference.

Now if I'd KNOWN Ellen was a Printz Honor Award Winner  I probably would have been too scared to approach her, but, alas, I did and found out she is a super, amazingly nice person.  I hadn't yet read her books, so I felt kinda goofy, but now I can make up for it with this review. :)

Anyway, Parrotfish is the type of book I'd recommend to anyone person trying to break free from labels and stereotypes.  There's a lot of discussion involving that topic.  Yes, the main character has changed gender, but the book is really about MORE than that.  It's about individuality, self-acceptance and well, let's face it, helping others accept who YOU really are.  I'm not gay or in confusion about my gender.  But I struggle EVERYDAY with being comfortable in my own skin.  I've tried to be "good" and fit the stereotype that a woman should, and it's made me crazy again and again.  Reading Grady's story inspired me to keep trying.  Be myself and love it.  So,  if you're in constant battle with yourself and others around you, read Parrotfish.  Grady will inspire you to be more of the self you should be.  Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. 

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