Title: The Recital
Recommended Ages: 8-11
Star Rating: ★★★
This installment in the Highlights series is subtitled ‘Friendship and Family Stories’.
1) The Recital in which Amy breaks her arm and can no longer perform in her piano recital. Unless, she and Jonathan can perform a duet…
2) Room Enough for Two in which Jackson and Lyla both claim for themselves the box that held the new refrigerator. Jackson wants to turn it into a cave, but Lyla wants it for a castle. Can they find a way to both be happy?
3) Paper Hearts in which Molly is afraid that she won’t fit in with her friends because her family can’t afford to buy fancy Valentine’s cards. Will they understand, or will they laugh her to scorn?
4) Backyard Neighbors in which Mike has promised his mother that he will no longer visit the fort he built next door now that the new neighbors have moved in. But will he keep his promise?
5) Checkers in which Seth is concerned because his Gramps just died and Gram isn’t showing any will to live. Can Seth liven her up again?
6) A Lucky Lass in which Helen’s pride may cause her to lose her place on the girls’ soccer team, but her mindset is changed after meeting a sprightly little leprechaun…
7) The Bargain in which siblings Jonas and Marcie find that by helping each other with their homework, they can both make passing grades!
8) The Hudson Street Gang in which Eddie is wary of his neighborhood’s gang until a bully offers him some trouble and the gang shows up to help him.
9) Visiting Aunt Lucy in which Caleb’s Grandpa has gone missing from the retirement home where he lives, but Caleb thinks he knows where he is.
10) Skiing Lessons in which not only is Carrie a flop at water skiing, but her cousin Ellen seems to actually dislike her. Can Carrie figure out why and fix their relationship?
11) The Left-Right, Swing-Your-Partner Chicken Dance in which Adam thinks that he will never learn the Chicken Dance in time for the school’s program. Can Adam devise a way to remember which foot to put forward when?
12) Good Friends in which Kiley’s best friend and next door neighbor moves away leaving Kiley feeling lonely and sad. But he puts aside his disappointments and befriends the new boy who has moved in next door.
13) Booker T.’s Hiccups in which Geoffrey has practiced his part as Booker T. Washington in the school’s presentation over and over, but is stricken with a bad case of hiccups as he tries to deliver his lines. Has he just ruined the whole show?
14) The Un-Dooming of Charles P. Abernathy in which Charles’ pranks – both planned and accidental – have made him the target of his entire class’s anger. Can he find a way to redeem himself?
15) Howdy Oats in which a new little Mexican boy, Arturo, is attending school and Christa is the only one to befriend him. Can Christa help Arturo make more friends?
16) The Q and Q Sisters in which sisters, Annie, Sara and Marly use their free morning to shovel the snow out their neighbors’ driveways.
For the most part, the main characters in The Recital exhibited care and compassion towards other people. In The Recital, Jonathan very graciously includes Amy in a duet. In Room Enough for Two, although they fight at first, Jackson and Lyla are happily sharing in the end. In Paper Hearts instead of mocking Molly’s simple cards, her classmates choose them as their ‘favorite cards’ and pin the up on the school bulletin board. In Checkers, Seth is genuinely worried about his grandmother and spends time with her trying to cheer her up. Et cetera, et cetera. However, there are some cautions…
One little boy’s older sister brings home her boyfriend from college.
A little boy’s mother tells him that he can no longer go next door to play in the fort that he built there because the new owner would not like it. He promises not to and keeps his promise for several weeks, but in the end he climbs up into the fort. It turns out that the neighbor doesn’t mind his being up there, and actually praises him for something he is able to do while up there.
A little girl captures a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. He and she agree to meet on the next day and she will give him three wishes while he gives her wealth. The next day they meet and the story resolves itself into a message about goodwill towards men.
At the beginning of one story, a little boy calls his sister a pest. In the end, her ‘pest-iness’ saves him from embarrassment, and he thanks her.
A young boy struggles with ostracism in school and when his father offers him advice, thinks to himself, “What does he know?”
In a different story, several boys tease a Mexican boy about his accent, but the main character staunchly defends him. At the end of the story, the mean boys offer the Mexican boy a toy as a sign of friendship.
Conclusion. This one has a few more problems than the typical Highlights book. It’s still a little better than filler fiction.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret