This review was contributed by: LILY AZERAD-GOLDMAN
To read the interview with Carol Weston click HERE
Friendship is the principal focus of Carol Weston’s second in a series of novels for pre-teens, Melanie Martin Goes Dutch: The Private Diary of My Almost Bummer Summer with Cecily, Matt the Brat, and Vincent Van Go Go Go.
There is a great deal going on between this book’s covers. We are not only once again exposed to the diary of a fourth grader by the name of Melanie, but also lessons concerning Anne Frank’s Diary, the Holocaust, discussions about Flemish artists, and illness.
The story provides a vivid insight into the turbulent pre-inner world of fourth grader Melanie. Weston addresses the character’s intense feelings with empathy and emotional engagement. With great sensitivity, Weston cleverly parallels Melanie’s diary to that of Anne Frank’s, making Melanie realize how good she has it.
Weston weaves into the tale, Cecily, Melanie’s friend, who joins the Martin family on their trip to Holland, and proves to be the “perfect guest,” to Melanie’s dismay. Melanie’s friendship and trust are seemingly betrayed, putting her in a foul mood. However, she regrets her ill thoughts, when she discovers how upset Cecily became, when she found out about Cecily's mom’s illness.
Carol Weston’s treatment of the subject of Cancer is sensitively presented with a great deal of empathy, thus avoiding the unnecessary upsetting of her young audience.
Although this novel may not be as cheerful as her first one,The Diary of Melanie Martin Goes To Italy, Weston still manages to tickle our funny bone with the Dutch language: “Zakkenrollers” (Pickpockets), “Ingang” (Entrance- like come in gang!), and with the continuing sibling rivalry with Matt the Brat, Melanie’s brother.
The narrative is simple but never simplistic. Neatly and sensitively presenting the complexity of some of the issues as friendship, the Holocaust, cancer, as well as etymology, the book will prove to be both educational and amusing.