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Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Sorta Sisters by Adrian Fogelin

It’s sorta sweet.
It’s sorta artistic.
It’s sorta scientific.

How so? Anna and Mica become pen pals through Anna’s neighbors, Ben and Cody, who meet Mica while visiting their Aunt. Mica, a homeschooled girl of a marine biologist, writes to Anna, a foster child of a biology teacher, and a story unfolds which includes their letters of correspondence. We see added treats of lovely pictures drawn by the author/artist of the various shells, feathers, rocks and items of scientific interest the girls send each other in their letters.

Mica's a rather lonely girl who struggles socially when she returns to school. Her mother left her and her father when she was young. Mica has taken on responsibility for her father because he struggles with alcoholism. Anna’s parents died when she was young and she was moved around in the foster system until landing with Miss J, a good match who is in the process of adopting her.

As grim as the circumstances sound, the girls’ issues are dealt with gently and without the too-much-information syndrome found in many tween books. In the finale, Mica’s father takes responsibility for his drinking, and checks himself into a clinic. Mica gets to meet Anna at this point because the father requests she stay there while he gets his act together.

Cautions (slight): the word “butt” enters the lexicon as a casual word. There are 2 matter-of-fact references to evolution including the assumed descent of humans from the trees. The mentions are brief but give no hint that there might be a bigger story or questions about the whole mechanism of evolutionary progress. When Cody, a young male character, looks in Anna’s window, they verbally spar about “what if she was naked.” It’s refreshingly appropriate in that they comment on how yucky that would be. Which makes you kind of wonder why later in the book when he looks through the window again, he needs another joke: “Still not naked?” Slow learner, I guess.



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