Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus
Imagine being Camille McPhee. She has low blood sugar, so she carries extra food in a cooler. Would you want to do that?
Didn't think so.
And you wouldn't want to fall under the school bus. That happened to Camille too!
Her cat, Checkers, is lost. And her best friend, Sally, moved to Japan. It would be hard to stay optimistic, right? But Camille is what her mom calls hopeful. Because really? There are plenty of things to be positive about:
Even making a new friend. Imagine that!
Camille McPhee's father warns her: "Don't expect life to be fair." Is it fair that hypoglycemic Camille's the only kid who has to carry extra food to school in a cooler? Is it fair when her best friend Sally moves from Idaho to Japan, making fourth grade "pretty rough"? Is it fair kids call Camille "soccer-ball head" even though she has thick, movie-star hair? Is it fair she slipped on ice and slid under the school bus? Is it fair her cat disappeared or her parents fight over money and might be splitting? Eleven-year-old Camille understands life is full of ups and downs, but how can so many unfair things happen to one person? Although Camille wryly relates her fourth-grade saga in the first person with droll humor, it's clear she's afraid to make new friends and even more afraid of what's happening to her parents. But at heart, Camille's a survivor, "born with the power to bounce back," which she does with surprising panache and hope in this touching debut. (Fiction. 8-12)
Fourth grade is rough and lonely for Camille after her best friend leaves her small Idaho town, and her beloved cat disappears. Camille knows her parents both love her. What worries her is how much they seem to hate each other. Heaven sounds like a pretty fantastic place, "except for the fact that you had to be dead to get there." Camille's anger and sadness drive this first novel's wry, lively narrative. There are no heavy messages and lots of humorous slapstick details at home and in the classroom. Camille does finally stand up to bullies who torment her, and she reaches out to make a friend, but there is still a lot to cope with, from her clumsy science-fair project to her parents' heartbreaking separation. Middle-grade readers will enjoy the insider's viewpoint, the blend of farce and sorrow, and the ending, which brings no neat resolution, just a yearning for a world that feels "a little more fair." - Hazel Rochman
School Library Journal, starred review:
Gr 3-5 - Camille, a fourth-grader who lives in rural Idaho, literally slides on the ice and under the school bus. Though she's fine, she decides to stay home for the day, having plenty to worry about. Her best friend, Sally, who recently moved to Japan, hasn't written as promised, so Camille has resolved to act like the dingo that she saw at the zoo, ignoring the pack and refusing to become involved with anybody around her. Though Polly, her neighbor, attempts friendship, Camille is determined to remain a loner. When her parents decide to try out a brief separation, Camille feels that the only person she can talk to is her aunt, who lives far away. Despite her problems, Camille truly is resilient and eventually figures out a new approach. As winter turns to spring, she and Polly begin to build a friendship, her parents begin to work out their issues, and Sally's mail finally arrives (having been delayed by a zip-code snafu). Camille falls down a few times but always manages to bounce back. Everything isn't rosy; instead, there's growing appreciation that life isn't perfect for anyone. The lively, first-person narrative moves readers through possibly banal or overly traumatic episodes with a gentleness and humor that has them rooting for Camille. This book about friendship and loss kindly teaches that life is pretty much what one is willing to make of it. - Sheila Fiscus, Our Lady of Peace School, Erie, PA
Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus was released in hardcover on August 11th, 2009 by Delacorte. The paperback was released on October 12th, 2010.
Hardcover ISBN-10: 0385736878
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0385736879
Paperback ISBN-10: 0375845461
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0375845468
Recommended for ages 8 and up, grades 4 and up.