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Book cover of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

by Linda Urban

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 224
Paperback
ISBN: 9780152066086






Available to Buy

Overview of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias has perfect piano dreams. She can practically feel the keys under her flying fingers; she can hear the audience's applause. All she needs is a baby grand so she can start her lessons, and then she'll be well on her way to Carnegie Hall.             But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day.             Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises—and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center.

Synopsis of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

An irresistible novel, full of warmth and sass, by a remarkable debut author

Publishers Weekly

Sounding a bit like a younger Rachael Ray, Ricci has a slight throaty rasp and a deadpan quality that well suits the personality of newcomer Urban's protagonist, 10-year-old aspiring pianist Zoe Elias. Zoe endures all manner of humiliation-including losing her best friend and playing "Hits of the '70s" on a "wheeze-bag" of an organ in competition-by reminding herself of her goal of performing piano concerts at Carnegie Hall. Short chapters prove a great way to shine the spotlight on Zoe's wry, just-short-of-sarcastic observations and will likely keep listeners hooked. However, Ricci's sometimes halting delivery and forced-sounding inflection mar the rhythm of the proceedings, taking some of the snap out of Urban's often laugh-out-loud humor. Listeners may also wonder why this recording, which has so much to do with music, contains nary a note. Ages 8-up. Simultaneous release with the Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 20). (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

About the Author, Linda Urban

LINDA URBAN, the former marketing director at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, California, now writes children's books full-time. A Crooked Kind of Perfect is her first novel. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.www.lindaurbanbooks.com

Reviews of A Crooked Kind of Perfect

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Editorials

From the Publisher

"What a generous spirit behind this book: one that celebrates the crooked quirks of its characters. I love Zoe's parents and her friend Wheeler, but most especially I love Zoe. She's perfect, in the most deliciously crooked kind of way."—Sharon Creech, Newbery Medal-winning author of Walk Two Moons "An impressive and poignant debut novel . . . filled with hope and humor."—School Library Journal "Immediately engaging . . . Zoe’s world is drawn with sometimes painful precision, her emotions are revealed with empathy, and her story unfolds realistically, without the miracles she hopes for, but with small, sometimes surprising changes . . . sometimes funny, sometimes tender, this is a promising debut."—Booklist "Short, funny chapters full of exaggeration and exasperation provide lots of laughs . . . Readers with their own dreams, weird obsessions, and quirky hobbies will be heartened by the message that a few bumps, compromises, and sour notes along the way can pay off in a major key."—The Bulletin

Publishers Weekly

Sounding a bit like a younger Rachael Ray, Ricci has a slight throaty rasp and a deadpan quality that well suits the personality of newcomer Urban's protagonist, 10-year-old aspiring pianist Zoe Elias. Zoe endures all manner of humiliation-including losing her best friend and playing "Hits of the '70s" on a "wheeze-bag" of an organ in competition-by reminding herself of her goal of performing piano concerts at Carnegie Hall. Short chapters prove a great way to shine the spotlight on Zoe's wry, just-short-of-sarcastic observations and will likely keep listeners hooked. However, Ricci's sometimes halting delivery and forced-sounding inflection mar the rhythm of the proceedings, taking some of the snap out of Urban's often laugh-out-loud humor. Listeners may also wonder why this recording, which has so much to do with music, contains nary a note. Ages 8-up. Simultaneous release with the Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 20). (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

School Library Journal

Gr 4-6
An impressive and poignant debut novel. Eleven-year-old Zoe dreams of giving piano recitals at Carnegie Hall. When her father purchases a Perfectone D-60, though, she must settle for the sounds of the organ rather than the distinguished sounds of a baby grand. Her organ teacher, Mabelline Person, notices the child's small talent for music and recommends her for the "Perfectone Perform-O-Rama"; she will play Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans." Accepting this new twist to her ambitions, Zoe must depend on a quirky support system: her father, who gets anxious when he leaves the house and who earns diplomas from Living Room University; her workaholic mother; and her classmate Wheeler, who follows Zoe home from school daily to spend time with her father, baking. Playing television theme songs from the '60s and '70s rather than Bach doesn't get Zoe down. Instead, aware of the stark difference between her dream and her reality, she forges ahead and, as an underdog, faces the uncertainty of entering the competition. In the end, resilient and resourceful Zoe finds perfection in the most imperfect and unique situations, and she shines. The refreshing writing is full of pearls of wisdom, and readers will relate to this fully developed character. The sensitive story is filled with hope and humor. It has a feel-good quality and a subtle message about how doing one's best and believing in oneself are what really matter.
—Jennifer CoganCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

All ten-year-old Zoe Elias has ever wanted is a baby grand so that she can become a star who dazzles Carnegie Hall. She doesn't know how to play, but that's a minor stumbling block. What she gets instead is an old, wheezy organ, a gift from her well-meaning, agoraphobic dad. While workaholic mom is hardly ever home, Zoe resigns herself to learning to play the instrument, all the while encouraged by her skittish father and a newfound supportive pal. Wouldn't you know that she turns out to be great at it and goes on to win in competition? There's a lot of knowing, child-friendly humor here, not the least provided by Zoe's hoot of an organ instructor. Readers should enjoy the fast-paced, brief chapters, silliness and tongue-in-cheek first-person narration. The author doesn't pull out all the stops, and the ending is pat, but this is still a satisfying read. (Fiction. 9-12)

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