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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Befiddled* by Pedro De Alcantara - young readers book review

by Pedro De Alcantara
Ages 9-12 192 pages Delacorte November 2005 Hardcover    

Befiddled hits all the right notes for young readers.

Becky Cohen doesn’t have any friends, but she does have hopes and dreams. She wants to be a great violinist, but a lack of money and confidence stand in her way - until she meets Mr. Freeman, her building’s handyman. He has a talent for fixing things, and soon Becky’s life becomes a symphony of beautiful sounds.

Author Pedro De Alcantara has successfully captured the insecurities of this age group through appropriate dialogue and actions. Becky is a sweet heroine who struggles to succeed despite the obstacles that seek to trip her. A critical music teacher and a disapproving mother cause her to lose confidence and make awkward mistakes. She hates her clothes and her hair and knows she can never compete with the other girls at school. Her only true friend is her little brother, who offers her unconditional love and support.

After the author paints such a poignant picture of Becky, he introduces Mr. Freeman, who does indeed “free” her from a prison of despair. Their friendship opens up lines of communication for Becky and enables her to verbalize her thoughts. When she learns to express herself, she is able to release the beautiful music stored within. The ending gets a round of applause as it comes to rest on a perfect note.

Readers will find not only a good story but also some encouragement for their own lives. The author offers gentle assurance and motivation to his young audience which should inspire hope and confidence. The musical aspect of the novel is well done; facts are smoothly integrated into the plot. These pages offer an additional and unique bit of fun with the inclusion of Benjy’s newsletter, “The Splinter.” Becky’s brother faithfully records the events of the story, along with some other interesting tidbits. Befiddled resonates with reality and hums with hope.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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