Saturday, April 30, 2016

Someday Angeline (1983) by Louis Sachar

Yippee! I can scan pictures now!

I just bought a printer/scanner for work so now I'll be scanning my own covers and adding in some pages of text or additional illustrations.

I think this is one of Sachar's lesser known books, but like most of his writing from this era, it is still a fast, funny and even touching read. Angeline has it tough. Her mother died when she was three and she lives with her garbage truck driver father (though she loves the garbage truck and wants to ride on one). What's worse, she is a genius. She remembers things that happened before she was born and at eight years old, knows more than her sixth grade teacher. The teacher, Mrs. Hardlick, and her classmates resent her intelligence and make fun of her for things like sucking her thumb and crying too much.

Angeline meets a boy at recess who is also an outcast at school. His name is Gary, though the other kids call him Goon. Gary has a habit of making corny jokes, which Angeline always calls the funniest she's ever heard (she also laughs too much). 

Gary, unlike Angeline, has a good teacher, Miss Turbone, whom he calls Mr. Bone (because the names sound the same - I didn't get it at first). Miss Turbone invites Gary and Angeline to set up her classroom aquariums, and they all get to be friends.

Angeline has a strained relationship with her father because he finds it difficult to talk to her. He wants Angeline to grow up to become a doctor or lawyer or something else important so he brings her home large informational books meant for adults. Angeline just wants a book with a good story and some jokes in it. Angeline is elected Secretary of Trash at school and is expected to clean up after everyone at recess. Even though Angeline vied for this position, her father blows a gasket and forces her to resign.

Mrs. Hardlick doesn't pay attention the next day as Angeline is trying to tell her what her father has decided. Angeline stays in at recess like always, but this time instead of cleaning up, she trashes the whole room. Mrs. Hardlick sends Angeline away on the city bus home with a note to her father to be signed. Angeline tears up the note and visits the city aquarium instead of going home.

Angeline at the aquarium
Angeline stops going to school and goes to the aquarium instead for about a week. Gary tells Miss Turbone what's going on and she drops by Angeline's house to investigate. When Angeline's father receives word that the teacher is going to pay a visit, he cleans up and puts on a shirt and tie, even though he thinks he's going to be meeting a teacher named Mr. Bone. Of course, when she gets to the Persopolis apartment, there are signs that Miss Turbone and Angeline's father will end up together. Also predictably enough, Miss Turbone suggests that Angeline leave Mrs. Hardlick's class and become her student, even though it would mean going back a grade. 

Angeline has to spend a few days in Mrs. Hardlick's class, though, while the adults cut through some red tape to make the switch happen. Angeline finds out that Mrs. Hardlick actually likes when kids get the wrong answer because it makes her feel smarter, so although she doesn't enjoy doing it, she continually gives wrong, wacky answers to simple questions and suddenly the teacher and kids like her better. Mrs. Hardlick likes her so much, in fact, that she offers to talk the principal out of switching Angeline to Miss Turbone's class. Angeline rushes out of the school and takes a bus out to the is this kid getting away with all this traveling by herself?

Angeline and Cool Breezer

Angeline plays in the water for a little while and then wanders off and meets a drunk fisherman with a foot fetish named Cool Breezer in a scene I'm not sure would work in this day and age. "He thought she had the prettiest feet he'd ever seen." Angeline walks to the other side of the pier and inexplicably jumps in and starts to drown. Cool Breezer jumps in and saves her.  

Abel (the father) prepares to go on a date with Melissa (Miss Turbone) and realizes he can't find Angeline. He thinks she's just hiding and goes about looking for her way longer than necessary. His friend and work partner, Gus, comes along to babysit Angeline and they look some more. The same occurs when Melissa arrives to pick up Abel for their date. They call Angeline's only friend Gary (instead of the police!) and he comes over as well.

Just then, Abel gets a phone call that Angeline was involved in an accident at Mitchell Beach and is now in the hospital. Angeline's mother drowned at Mitchell Beach when Angeline was three. Angeline has always wanted to go to the beach and has a weird habit throughout the book of drinking saltwater like it was Kool-Aid. Her father has never let her go to the beach, however, and he never explained why.

Everyone rushes to the hospital where Angeline is unconscious. Everyone is very somber and emotional until Gary tearfully gives Angeline the set up to a new joke "Why doesn't an elephant need a suitcase?" (You'd think a genius girl like Angeline would be able to get that one easily.) But Angeline whispers "why?" Everyone cheers as she regains consciousness. Cool Breezer kisses both her feet (barf) and Angeline witnesses her father and Miss Turbone kissing for the first time

A kid's book report I found in the pages of my copy of the book.

The book ends with the gang all taking a ride in Abel's and Gus's garbage truck, another of Angeline's wishes fulfilled.

I have to say that Sacher was able to make Angeline a very likable character, despite her purported high IQ and general bratty behavior throughout the book. This is not a good as some of his others, but was still a nice time-waster and as Angeline would say "a good story with lots of funny jokes."

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