Wednesday, November 25, 2009

" 'Where oh where ...' wondered Ophie Peeler, looking around her big, almost-empty bedroom, 'did Mom pack my ruby slippers?' "

One of the most random tasks of the Take a Chance Challenge was this one --
Random Book Selection. Go to the library. Position yourself in a section such as Fiction, Non-Fiction, Mystery, Children (whatever section you want). Then write down random directions for yourself (for example, third row, second shelf, fifth book from right). Follow your directions and see what book you find. Check that book out of the library, read it and then write about it. (If you prefer, you can do the same at a bookstore and buy the book!)

Our local library has a very random shelf configuration so I couldn't write down directions. Instead, I stood just outside the children's section (since we're getting close to the end of the challenge and I needed a book I could read quickly) and peeked around corners to count shelves. Still, I didn't look at any of the books before I picked my numbers. I ended up with Ophie Out of Oz by Kathleen O'Dell. This is a pretty standard "kid in a new town" story.

Ophelia Peeler is a fourth grader who has moved with her father (a salesman), mother and new baby sister to Oregon from California. It's another new school and time to make new friends for Ophie. She, of course, sets her sights on the popular girls but quickly gets on their bad sides and ends up hanging out with an awkward girl and her younger sister who are both in public school for the first time after being home-schooled. She decides to make the best of it until they move again but then her dad ends up with a coveted desk job and Ophie finds out that they are going to stay in Oregon permanently. So she has to find a way to fit in and also to be honest and be herself.

I wasn't in love with this book but I am not the target audience. I'm not sure how I would have felt if I had read it in grade school. I appreciate taking this chance though because with a child just starting school, it's helpful to be reminded of the sorts of things that kids go through in elementary school. So many things in this book were familiar--from awkward moments at a new school to trying to get someone to notice you--but I had forgotten about those experiences. I think I will read more elementary school fiction in the coming years as a way to be a better parent.

Remembering the days that I was the new girl,

Support our site and buy Ophie Out of Oz on Amazon or find it at your local library. We borrowed our copy from the library.


  1. You had me at "If Kevin Smith's film Dogma and Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's novel Good Omens had a witty yet mature baby..."

    I was surprised by the fact that this book was self-published. It would indeed be nice if it did find a wider audience.

    There are so many good self-published works out there, but it can be very hit or miss, which makes some people wary of reading self-published books at all -- which is unfortunate.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. It is an odd experience reading children's or YA fiction as an adult - like a literary out of body experience. I oftne find myself wondering what the 6, 8, 12 year old me would have made of certain books. You can never quite reach back and be certain you know what you would have thought. But it is this sense of being unnerved that is interesting in a lot of reading I think.

  3. Jux - I definitely think it's a worthwhile experience to keep in touch will all levels of literature! It keeps us young, right?

  4. I think you made a smart move to position yourself in that section of the library!