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Carol Weston

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Published : 2017

Copyright : Carol Weston 2016

ISBN-10 : PB 1-4926-3598-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-4926-3598-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Love is in the air and Ava thinks she's allergic.

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and Ava couldn't care less. That is, until a new girl, Kelli, asks out Ava's friend Chuck... and he says yes! What?!? Ava is NOT okay with this. But since when does she think about boys? For the first time ever, words fail Ava. She isn't sure what she's feeling (Like? Love? Friendship? Frustration?), or what "going out" even means. After all, fifth graders aren't allowed to go anywhere by themselves, are they?

To top it off, Pip's friend Tanya is being bullied for her size. Ava wants to help but, uh oh, it's not as easy as she imagines.

The New York Times called Ava and Pip "a love letter to language." With this third diary format, Girls' Life advice columnist Carol Weston hits another home run.

Age Range: 10 - 12 years

Don't miss how it all began in:
Ava and Pip
Ava and Taco Cat

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Molly Martin (280218) Rating (9/10)

Review by Molly Martin
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 9/10

Carol Weston’s Ava XOX is the third work of the Ava series.

The narrative opens with Ava relating astonishing news, Chuck is ‘going’ with Kelli.

Ava states that she is annoyed in part because she, Chuck and Kelli are all only in fifth grade. She does mention that she thinks of Chuck as a brother, nothing more… just friends.

From that point The Reader is observer as Ava threads her way into and part of various situations, circumstances, relationships and nuances of relationships and situations.

Valentine’s Day is soon upon the class, Ava eschews buying the usual packet of Valentines she has enjoyed giving and receiving in the past.

Ava’s sister Pip and Pip’s boyfriend Ben WILL be exchanging valentines of course, they are after all, A Couple.

A chance meeting with Chuck as he is pouring change into the change sorting machine leaves Ava a bit confused, ‘since when do I feel nervous around Chuck?’

Ava and her mixed feelings regarding her relationship with long-time friend Chuck, trying to help Pip and her friend Tanya with their Spanish class project only to have it become a disaster, first boy girl party and BFF sleepovers, a pack of Bubblemint Gum, Ben’s sister Bea and Ava again join forces to help Pip’s friend Tanya as she tries to change her eating habits, setting the tips down as a Poster and it backfires for Ava, are all part of the narrative as Ava is learning how to live through the growing up process.

Ava XOX is a dandy read for the middle grade group. That writer Weston knows this age level well comes across on the pages of her Ava books. Ava reminds me so of the children in my own family as sisters and I were parents of the ‘tween set.

I like the diary format, encouraged my two fourth grade classes when I returned to teaching after a decade hiatus, to begin journaling and read aloud Weston’s ‘Melanie’ books one chapter at a time and am sorry now that I don’t have a group of fourth graders begging for ‘one more chapter, Please, one more chapter.’

Ava XOX is another thought provoking read sure to please girls, and as I found during my earlier daily chapter reading days of the Melanie books, perhaps the boys too in the target reading group of 9-14 year olds.

Once more Author/Parent Weston proves her adroit ability as a skilled writer who not only has her finger on the pulse of the target audience, but knows particular issues to address to help guide the reader’s through the sticky quagmire of the ‘too little to be big and too big to be little’. The ‘tween group is learning how to become more grown up and somehow mesh school work and burgeoning social skills.

Clearly Weston understands and manages to illuminate the primary charm of this age group. Ava XOX is an easily read, pleasant account filled with more palindromes and word nerd fun. I found students in my classes whether firsties, or the middle grades were all fans of palindromes and other word fun.

As with works of the earlier Melanie series, and now the Ava books, writer Weston presents a practical depiction of the childhood to almost an adult angst, along with well delineated details designed to draw the reader into the narrative and hold reader interest from opening lines on to the last paragraphs. The muddled, and at times confusing, interpersonal relationships closely mirror those exhibited by the middle grade students.

The format of diary entries filled with personal asides by Ava as she describes her feelings and hopes, tosses in personal notes about spelling words, and the like, all add pleasant child-like playfulness and predictable narrative issuing naturally from an eleven-year-old girl present positive stimulus to continue reading.

The reader is drawn into the narrative without pause. Ava is a representative 'almost a teen girl' who is learning to cope with day to day activities of home and school. In her diary Ava sets down her hopes, mistakes, successes, distress, emotion, growth and spirit in her diary.

Writer Weston gently guides the reader into realization that Ava, the reader and most likely each of us at one time or another are facing or have faced all of the difficulty, sensitivity, circumstance and mistakes Ava too must deal with.

Girls, and boys too, during the middle grades ages 9 – 14; may not always feel comfortable to talk with parents or teachers about their churning emotions. Reading Ava’s feelings set down on her diary pages may do much to guide other youngsters toward understanding that they really are not so peculiar, singular or 'out of it' when their own feelings, insecurities and mistakes may seem to reflect many of the ups and downs as Ava too is experiencing.

Ava XOX is a book I am happy to recommend for a place in the public and school library, on the classroom reading shelf, for a free reading program, a home library and for pleasure reading for middle grades. This Ava book will make a nice back to school gift for the beginning of the new school term for student and teacher alike.

Hope there are more Ava books to come in this series. Enjoyed the read very much, happy to recommend.
Molly Martin (28th February 2018)

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