Reviews for Water Balloon

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Thirteen-year-old Marley is having a terrible summer: her parents have separated; her longtime best friends have abandoned her; and she must spend her mornings watching five-year-old twins. Predictably, Marley makes new friends (including her adorable neighbor, Jack), wins over the twins, and comes to terms with the changes to her family. Standard middle-grade fare, but Marley is a sympathetic character.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 August #1

Sometimes life can just wallop you in the head like the missile of the title.

So 13-year-old Marley learns when her parents separate, her dad moves out and starts weeding his garden incessantly, the relationship with her two best girlfriends starts to unravel for good—and she meets Jack, a great-looking, baseball-loving boy. Then, to top it all off, she has to spend the summer with her father in his new house and deal with the job he's lined up for her—caring for two adorable but bratty, needy 5-year-old twins, daughters of a neighbor who may or may not be Dad's new girlfriend. Readers have seen this all before, but Vernick makes a very auspicious fiction debut here with her breezy, briskly paced tale, well-portrayed characters, authentic relationships and keen ear for realistic dialogue. The sweet, swoony young romance doesn't hurt either, and preteen female readers will eat this up and learn a wise and wistful thing or two about friendships, including when and how to walk away and start new ones. The author also handles the parents' separation and Marley's learning how to cope with it and life's inevitable changes successfully and with sensitivity.

A nicely reassuring read with a satisfying ending; a harbinger of more good novels to come from this author. (Fiction. 10-13)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 October

Gr 4-7--Seventh-graders Jane, Leah, and Marley have been best friends forever, riding bikes, playing their own version of Monopoly, and enjoying their annual water-balloon blitz. Then Marley's father moves out, and everything changes. She has to spend the summer with him in his new place where nothing is familiar. Jane and Leah are going to theater camp and are inseparable, and Marley's dad has gotten her a job babysitting twins. When Jane invites Marley to her pool party (complete with high school boys), Marley decides that this is the perfect time for the blitz, but she quickly realizes that she has made a mistake. Jane and Leah have outgrown Monopoly, the water balloons, and her. Luckily, there is Jack, the boy who just might make the summer memorable for Marley. The book moves along at a pace that will keep tweens interested, and the dialogue among the characters feels real. Marley's relationships with her friends and family are complex, and even the most reluctant readers will relate to her and the choices that she makes. Put this book on your "must-have" list. It won't stay on the shelves long.--Tammy DiBartolo, Rapides Parish Library, Alexandria, LA

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VOYA Reviews 2011 October
Thirteen-year-old Marley works through a confusing summer of divorced parents, changing friends, and job responsibilities to discover new friendship, young love, and personal strength. Feeling angry and betrayed over the divorce, she moves into her father's new home for the summer while her mother travels. Her best friends are involved in a theater camp. Because of financial constraints, her father arranges a babysitting job for her with five-year-old twins, and he has no computer or cell phone. Marley's anger and confusion escalate when she discovers that her father dates the lady for whom she babysits, and her friends consider her a boring and immature embarrassment. Jack, the boy next door, offers her new friendship and a budding romance. Recognizing that some of her problems start with her own attitude, she manages the twins, offers her father support, and parts with her fair-weather friends, as well as childhood rituals. Many middle school and junior high girls will identify with the difficulty of making personal transitions while parents are doing the same. Sometimes Marley seems too naïve, a logical result of a sheltered and relatively indulged family life that accounts for her initially entitled attitude. As she matures, humor and creativity help her develop an admirable toughness. This charming and innocent story offers much for changing families to discuss and pairs well with Amy Goldman Koss's The Not So Great Depression (Roaring Brook, 2010/VOYA August 2010) and, for a little older audience, Valerie Hobbs's Tender (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001/VOYA October 2001).--Lucy Schall 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.