United Tates of America - a scrapbook novel ISBN: 9780744598193
Published by Walker, 2003
Skate Tate likes everything to stay the same, so when she and cousin Susie go up to middle school when they are eleven, the changes take adjustment. The Tate family are a zany, happy lot, full of puns, and life in New Jersey is good. Skate and her sister Emma are 'scrapbookers', which means that they are seriously into making scrapbooks, and the final 32 full-colour pages of the book are sophisticated examples of Skate's artistic abilities. There is much about Skate's adjustment to middle school, but a large part of the first half of the book is about the family's close relationship to GUM (Great-Uncle Mort). He lives in a flat adjoing the family house, but travels the world. When GUM dies suddenly at 57 from heart disease, the girls are shocked and horrified. The emotions while sometimes sentimental are well handled and many good points are raised. GUM, who was seriously rich, has left money for the family to travel, and during their first trip to Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts, they begin to come to terms with their loss. A good read with a very American 'voice', it will appeal to pre-teens and above.