Reviews for Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls

Booklist Reviews 2006 December #2
Franny, Pru, and Cat, enemies all, live on Gumm Street. Ivy's arrival doesn't enhance relationships. When Mr. Staccato, a piano teacher and collector extraordinaire, dies after bequeathing The Wizard of Oz ruby slippers to Ivy, a coalescing force arrives in the person of his niece, Cha-Cha, who resembles the wicked witch. To outsmart Cha-Cha, the girls join together, but before they can say "Toto," they find themselves in the land of Spoz, where Cha-Cha lives with her Paris Hilton-like wards, Coco and Bling-Bling. In her first novel, Primavera, best known for picture books, tries to combine the friendships of the Babysitters Club with the over-the-top adventures of the Baudelaire siblings, but the result is often more wearing than winsome. Still, this has moments of high humor, and like Quentin Blake's art in Roald Dahl's books, Primavera's energetic artwork often carries the day. Kids will miss a few of the jokes (Judy Garland's real last name was Gumm), but most of the humor is broad enough to hit the target audience. The first in a series. ((Reviewed December 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
Pru, Cat, and Franny are not friends. But when new-girl Ivy faces danger, they unite to help her and find themselves living out a modern-day Wizard of Oz story. After a slow start, the girls' adventures gain momentum. Primavera's wicked witches are delightfully sinister yet silly, and she presents the girls' struggles toward friendship with a light, humorous touch. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 October #1
When Ivy Diamond comes to live in the ramshackle old house on Gumm Street in the town of Sherbet, the lives of her neighbors, talented Cat, cautious Pru (think Officer Buckle) and adventurous Franny, become much more interesting. Primavera's comic fantasy adventure pays homage to both Baum's Oz and Hollywood's as the girls pursue the theft of a silver slipper by a wicked, though stylish, witch. Lively black-and-white illustrations woven into clear, wide-leaded text give energy and charm to nearly every page. Great fun in parts, ambitious and good-natured, with satire, invention and silliness à la Baum: Besides the girls, green teen witches and an amusingly benevolent mama potato in the land of Spudz stand out among a crowded cast of figures and places. Transitions and expository narrative occasionally weigh down the story, while the plot careens a bit wildly and untidily to its conclusion. A mixed bag, but entertaining. (Fiction. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 November #2

Primavera (Auntie Claus ) takes her time getting to the heart of her tale, narrated by a humorous yet disarmingly wise omniscient narrator. In the town of Sherbet, four girls ("all about ten or eleven years old") live on Gumm Street: prudent Prudence Gumm, bookish and severe; Franny Muggs, voyeur and daredevil; Cat Lemonjello, whose mother wrote a hipster version of the I Ching ("Darkness is coming at you, dude"); and Ivy Diamond, new to the neighborhood, whose broken-mirror-imposed seven years of bad luck are soon to be up. Ivy holds the key to the story; piano teacher Mr. Staccato (who claims to be 122 years old) tells her that she is the rightful heir of two red shoesâ€"laced with mystical powers and tied to Hollywood's production of The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland fans will appreciate the coy use of her given name, Frances Gumm). When a fierce storm rips through town, the girls find themselves facing a wicked witch named Cha Cha who wants those shoes. From there it's a postmodern, surreal reworking of Baum's classic, significantly buoyed by the author's cheerful pen-and-inks, which recall the work of Jules Feiffer. In a nod to the Hogwarts hierarchy, the girls' school is divided into four houses, each named for one of the founder's favorite sandwiches, and instead of a sorting hat, a "large glowing computer" puts the girls where they will "find [their] unique talent." Despite the author's overriding emphasis on humor, Primavera is at her best in occasional flashes of poignancyâ€"as in the omniscient narrator's breathtaking passage about the emotional power of family heirlooms. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2006 December

Gr 3-6 Set in the picturesque town of Sherbet, this story centers around four girls who live on Gumm Street. Franny, Pru, and Cat are not friends (at least not at first). Pru thinks Franny is reckless. Franny thinks Pru is a big baby. And they both dislike Cat because she is just too perfect. But when Ivy moves into the neighborhood, everything changes. First she discovers a pair of ruby slippers. Then the girls’ piano teacher, Mr. Staccato, disappears. And, finally, a strange and magnetic woman claiming to be his sister moves into his house. The girls soon realize that they must ban together to save Sherbet. With the help of two dogs, a jinx, Pru’s copy of The Wizard of Oz , and ESP, they set out on an adventure that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Primavera’s illustrations, laced throughout the narrative, are small artistic gems that unite the text. 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, Fairfax County Public Library System, Reston, VA

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