Peanut Butter Is Forever
Joan Weller is head librarian at the West Branch of Ottawa Public
Library, and the children’s literature reviewer for the Ottawa
This short novel is about friendship. Influenced by her family, Michelle decides to give up her friendship with Dora Klutzmann on entering grade seven at Clearview Junior High. In her sister Tenez’s words, Dora, or Klutzy for short, is a “dog-faced” loser who will only bring about Michelle’s unpopularity. Ensuing events, however, lead our young heroine to forsake her obnoxious new friends who gang up on Klutzy and to forsake her own chances to be a writer on the school paper by plagiarizing Klutzy’s poetry. In the end Dora becomes more attractive, popular, and accepted for herself, leaving Michelle to befriend her once more for true friendship’s sake. The book has nothing to recommend it, with its predictable plot, dialogue riddled with clichéd slang and shallow, stereotyped characterization. If written, as one suspects, for reluctant readers, one must point out that all readers, whether keen or reluctant, deserve not to be talked down to but to be offered the best. Books for reluctant readers must respect literary standards and in so doing respect readers.