The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls

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The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls 

by Elise Primavera

Snapshot:

  • Reading Level: Ages 8-12
  • Published by HarperCollins on September 26, 2006
  • 464 pages
  • Lexile: 910
  • Genre(s):  Fantasy/Magic, Humor
  • Theme(s): Friendship, Social Acceptance
  • Setting(s): Town of Sherbet, Sherbet Academy, Gumm Street, Land of Spoz

Review:

The girls of Gumm Street, Pru, Cat & Franny, just don’t get along- you could even call them enemies.  But they’ll need to learn to accept one another when a new arrival named Ivy moves into the town of Sherbet, bringing with her a 7 year old family jinx that starts to stir up all sorts of trouble.

At Sherbet Academy, the girls are divided into groups based on talent: you either belong to Tuna-on-Rye,  the most desired group of genius kids who can do cartwheels, Liverwurst, Egg-Salad or Bacon-Lettuce-and-Tomato.  Pru & Cat belong to Tuna-on-Rye, so they are constantly competing with each other, & Franny belongs to Liverwurst, the least desired group. New girl Ivy befriends Franny and wants to fit in but her family jinx seems to want otherwise.

First, their piano teacher, Mr. Staccato,  who happens to own a pair of ruby red slippers, suddenly disappears, and then his sister -or is she his niece?- a ravenously stylish woman named Cha–Cha Staccato, storms in. Just as things couldn’t get any stranger, the four girls are transported into the land of Spoz, a world that pays tribute to the Wizard of Oz novels by Frank Baum.

A perfect read for a tween beginner, I would highly recommend this read to a transitioning tween, ages 8-11. The themes of friendship and adventure make for a thoroughly exciting read.  Primavera’s creativity is abundantly clear and her black & white sketches of the characters add an additional dimension to the novel.

Quotes from Published Book Reviews:

“Despite the author’s overriding emphasis on humor, Primavera is at her best in occasional flashes of poignancy—as in the omniscient narrator’s breathtaking passage about the emotional power of family heirlooms.”- Publishers Weekly, vol 253, issue 45, p58

“To truly enjoy The Secret Order , readers should be familiar with L. Frank Baum’s original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . However, even those only familiar with the 1939 film will take pleasure in this delightful tale of friendship and adventure.”- Lisa Marie Williams, School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 12, p152

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