Tt’s not easy being a nine-year-old kid in the middle of a busy, gifted family. Especially when the list of things you’re good at includes only two items—“Crying” and “Stopping crying”—and the list of things you’re not good at seems to be getting longer every day.
When Sophie’s mom suggests that she’s good at being kind and just needs a little more practice, Sophie feels hopeful. But being kind to a grouchy old lady or her big sister, Nora, or the weird new girl at school isn’t as easy as it sounds. If only Sophie were a queen, she could practice being kind to commoners instead. It would be much more dignified and elegant. And she would finally get to wear her very own diamond tiara. . . .
From the author of the popular Owen Foote books, here is a funny, observant novel about an irrepressible girl, as quirky and original in her own way as Owen is in his, in search of her own special talent.
Greene's (the Owen Foote novels) intermittently affecting novel introduces a nine-year-old who is saving up to buy a tiara. The middle child of five siblings, Sophie is convinced that she is not good at anything except crying and keeping a list of all the things she does not do well. One of them is ballet, at which her frequently condescending 12-year-old sister, Nora, excels. In a comical family dinner scene, Nora snootily comments that Sophie "can't do anything," and the younger sister responds by performing her trademark trick of wiggling her nostrils. Sophie revels in taking the spotlight until her sister says, "I'd die if my nose looked like that." Sophie runs to her room, where Mrs. Hartley consoles her by saying she has a talent for "being kind" and suggests she hone the skill by practicing it (the woman also wisely makes it a bit of a contest, saying that Nora is only kind "when it suits her"). This sets the stage for some rather belabored descriptions of the girl's efforts at being kind (to the off-putting new girl at school and a moody older woman). Yet Greene's narrative shines in its depiction of the heartwarming, entirely realistic Hartley family dynamics, including a satisfying turnabout by Nora, which brings the story to a literally sparkling conclusion. Ages 7-10.