A story about a large family! Sounds fun… but is it?
It’s not every family that has eleven children – but then, the Rossos never claimed to be typical! In fact, Abigail, Bainbridge, Calandra, Dagwood, Eberhard, Faustine, Gardenia, Hannah, Ira, Hanthina, and Keegan are pretty used to being not normal. And they’re great with it! Most of the time.
But this summer, their parents are dragging the eleven of them (plus the cat, Zsa-Zsa) off to Fire Island for the weekend. As mishaps abound, will the Rossos be able to survive their vacation?
The relationships between and amongst the children and parents are so-so. They get along and have a lot of fun sometimes, and then other times they argue with and aggravate each other. They call each other names and make faces at each other. But they also defend each other from outsiders.
Faustine decides that it is wrong to eat meat and eggs or drink milk because it involves cruelty to animals. She tries to convince the others in her family to follow suit, which drives them crazy. Finally her father tells her that she can eat or not eat whatever she wishes, but that she must allow the others to do as they wish. This is part of his explanation to her.
“In the animal world,” began Mr. Rosso, “and let me remind you that humans are animals too, littler or weaker animals are eaten by bigger or stronger animals. That’s the law of nature. That’s how all animals, including humans, have survived since the world began.” [pgs. 44-45]
Calandra is determined to believe that the house next door is haunted. One of her siblings takes advantage of Candy’s nervous and pretends to be a ghost outside of Candy’s window. She leaves seashells on Candy’s window and generally freaks her out.
Candy was certain now that the house was haunted. Candy had read that spirits and poltergeists sometimes haunted young people, like in that scary movie in which the young girl is possessed by the devil. She decided that if she did only one important thing that summer, it would be to solve the mystery of the house next door. Then she could show everyone in her family that she wasn’t crazy after all, and that there are mysterious things in the world, things that can’t be explained naturally. [pgs. 34-35]
Candy hires her brother Eberhard, an aspiring detective, to get to the bottom of the case. He inquires of the fishermen, and they tell him a scary story about how the inhabitants of the house drowned at sea. At this time Hannah steps forward and admits her prank and tells Candy that the story the fishermen told is a tall tale. The strange thing is that the story is identical to a dream that Candy had repeatedly while on Fire Island.
Candy isn’t the only one that Hannah teases. In her boredom she plays destructive pranks on several of her other siblings until she is caught and grounded.
The father comments that he’s going to do something “with that zoo we call our family.” [pg. 70]
There is some influence from pop-culture evident in Eleven Kids. Elvis Presley and Julia Roberts are each referred to. Also, in the first chapter, Abigail meets a fictional movie star, Justin Hart, that she is crazy about. She becomes friends with him, and later, she and her siblings are extras in his new movie.
In order to tease Abbie, Hannah tells Justin that Abbie has a crush on him. This not only embarrasses Abbie, but it also causes Justin’s girlfriend to become angry with her. Justin himself is described as a ‘Hart-throb’ who “looked much, much cuter in real life than he did on TV or on the movie screen. His brown eyes were wide set, a few freckles were scattered over his nose, his legs were long, and he grinned at Candy from under a mop of dark curls.” [pg, 28]
Fourteen year old Bainbridge is rather interested in girls. On the day after their arrival, settles “on the Rosso’s deck, facing the ocean with a pair of binoculars. He said he was “chick-watching,” which Abbie told him was a sexist comment.” [pg. 25] Later he makes friends with a girl named Amelia. He says of her “his chick-watching had paid off, although now that he and Amelia were spending so much time together, Bainbridge no longer thought of her as a chick.” [pg. 120] They spend lots of time together and the term ‘girl friend’ is tossed around.
‘Gosh’ is used seven times, while ‘darn’ is used once.
Conclusion. Not recommended. A little less than okay.
Review © 2013 Laura Verret