Title: Aldo ApplesauceAldo Applesauce
Author: Johanna Hurwitz
Illustrator: John Wallner
Pages: 125
Reading Level: 9-12
Star Rating: ★★

Typical 70s book.

The Story.

Aldo Sossi likes his family’s new home in the country. But moving there means that he and his two sisters must attend a new school. Aldo is nervous. He likes people, but he knows no one at this school. What will they be like? Will they befriend him?

Truth is, they seem more interested in teasing him than in becoming friends with him. They call him “Applesauce Aldo” after an accident in which Aldo clumsily spills his container of applesauce on the floor. With the tauting chant “Applesauce Aldo!” ringing in his ears, is there any way for Aldo to feel welcome at school?

Discussion.

The premise of Applesauce Aldo isn’t a bad one. Aldo is constantly teased by all but one of his classmates. That one, DeDe, is a unique girl – she wears a stick-on moustache to school for no apparent reason. She is friendly to Aldo and helps him to outwit his tormentors. Eventually, through conversations with his father and DeDe, Aldo comes to realize that the teasing of his classmates is really their way of initiating him – they have no time for the common civilities of polite friendship, but would rather dive straight into the tease-and-tumble of deep friendship.

When Aldo visits DeDe in her home, he discovers the cause of her moustache-wearing. Her parents are divorced and, although she lives with her mother, she still loves her father. When she was younger, she was often told that she looked like her father, but now he has grown a moustache. In her desire to still identify with him and keep a part of him with herself, she decided to begin wearing a moustache, too. Aldo convinces her that there is no need for her to do this, but that her father will still love her, even if she does not look like him. It’s very sad, really.

Aldo plays a game called “Red Volks” in which a red volkswagon is considered to be a “good-luck charm” and whoever says “the magic words” first wins.

We learn that Aldo is a vegetarian, which is another subject of teasing.

It is said that Aldo’s sister and her friends share the interests of “boys, clothes, and rock music.” [pg. 64]

Halloween is mentioned. Aldo wonders if there is animal life on any other planet.

Conclusion. Okay – not especially wonderful.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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