With humorous text and visuals that recount another youthful episode, Polacco takes readers to mid-1950s Oakland, California.
Patricia is in junior high, the same school her “rotten, redheaded older brother…Richie” attends. Her brother embarrasses her with his slovenly hygiene; underscoring this, Polacco draws him as a monstrously funny figure. But one day, he miraculously changes, cleaning up both room and body, and shows up as the ice cream scooper at Ozzie’s lunch counter. He is dating Patricia’s best friend’s older sister, and the slightly younger girls are mortified. Even though the thought of Richie and Diane kissing makes them “want to hurl,” the budding artist has designs on handsome Johnnie Pearson. Once a week at ballroom dancing, Patricia longs for an invitation to dance. Their teacher insists that the boys do the asking, but only the “dweeb…geek…weirdo” Michael McKennah, with braces and glasses, asks her. When the end-of-year dance is announced, she is determined to learn the latest dances. Ozzie offers to introduce her to an expert—but it’s her own brother. He teaches Patricia the popular dances, and she finally shows her prowess and winds up with a surprise boyfriend. Characters and action are rendered with verve in the author/illustrator’s signature style, the scenes full of movement. All main characters present White, but there is racial diversity in the background. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
With its exhilarating illustrations, another tale from this master storyteller rings true.(author's note) (Picture book. 7-10)