Sunday, November 25, 2012

Color Me Content! Amber Brown Is Tickled Pink by Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy

I, Amber Brown, have to spend a million dollars.

Mrs. Holt just told me so. Actually everyone in our class has to spend a million dollars.

Too bad it’s not real money.

We have to have a lot of facts and figures. And we each have to make a pie chart. I like eating pies....not charting them.

“When the project is finished, we’ll have a Budget Fair,” Mrs. Holt tells us.

I think a “Budget Fair” sounds like a place to go on really cheap rides and get half- price cotton candy!

Actually the budget project is perfect for Amber Brown, because she has bucks on the brain. Her mother and Max, Mom’s fiancé, have just had their first big argument over whether to have a big wedding (Max’s idea) or a small one at City Hall (Mom’s budget plan). Amber has been chosen as the budget attendant, “Best Child,” a combo maid-of-honor and best man role, and she is ready to walk down the aisle in her first “occasion dress.” Plus, she’s already invited her best friends, Brandi and Kelly, and she’s embarrassed to have to un-invite them.

Amber Brown has more than one reason for feeling blue. In addition to the on-and-off wedding plans, Mom and Dad keep making her an unwilling audience for their snarky sniping at each other. Amber loves her dad, and she really likes Max a lot. Dealing with both of those feelings is definitely coloring her mood these days.
Max pulls out of the driveway before Dad and I turn in.

I turn to look at Dad. I see the start of a smug smile. “Looks like there’s trouble in

This makes me angry. But I’m also scared. I wonder what happened between Mom
and Max.

“Dad, I don’t like it when you say things like that.”

He definitely needs to keep taking those dad lessons. Now I have to go in the house and see what’s going on with Mom.

Sometimes my parents are a lot of work.

But an alternate idea comes to Amber from an unimagined source. Mrs. Holt books notorious nose-picker Fredrich Allen’s dad to talk to the class about managing their family business, Camp Sukkatukket. Suddenly, Amber Brown has the glimmer of a bright idea. She talks Max and Mom into a Sunday drive to the place of her choice and directs them to take a look at Camp Sukkatukket as a possible budget wedding venue. It has a long, rustic porch with a spectacular view of a very pretty pond, and the off-season price is perfect, penny-wise, for a spring wedding. The wedding plans are suddenly in the black, and Amber Brown is no longer feeling blue.

Now if she can just come up with the perfect “occasion dress,” Amber Brown will be tickled pink, and again the solution to her dilemma comes from an unexpected but welcome source. 

When Paul Danziger died in 2004, her “best friend” and “other best friend,” veteran authors Bruce Coville and Elizabeth Levy, felt that her most famous character had been left in fictional limbo, leading them to pool their prize-winning literary skills in re-creating Amber’s unique voice. In this latest in the Amber Brown series, we have our famous color-me character reincarnated, and her in-living-color return in Amber Brown Is Tickled Pink (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2012) is a delightful addition to the series and to the world of chapter books for young readers in that early middle reader fictional neighborhood where Ramona Quimby, Judy Moody, Just Grace, and Clementine happily reside.

Earlier books in this notable and long-running series are Amber Brown Is Not A Crayon, Amber Brown Sees Red, Amber Brown #9: Amber Brown Is Green With Envy, Amber Brown Is Feeling Blue, and Amber Brown Goes Fourth. Despite her punny titles and downright hilarious heroine, Paula Danziger knew how to write in that “happy-sad” way that Beverly Cleary spoke of, with realistic stories that speak of the emotional ups and downs of real life. It’s good to have Amber Brown back. As Publisher's Weekly puts it, Levy and Coville "don’t miss a beat as they channel the voice of Danziger’s funny, acerbic, and pun-loving heroine."

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