Title: A Crooked Kind of Perfect
Author: Linda Urban
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 1st, 2007
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: Ten-year-old Zoe Elias has perfect piano dreams. She can practically feel the keys under her flying fingers; she can hear the audience's applause. All she needs is a baby grand so she can start her lessons, and then she'll be well on her way to Carnegie Hall.
But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life in Michigan that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day.Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises--and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center.
What I Think: Six years later and I still love this book! Here is what I wrote about Crooked Kind of Perfect when I read it in April of 2008, " I loved this book! It is so cute. It is about Zoe, who dreams of playing the piano...but her agoraphobic dad gets roped into buying an organ instead! She ends up learning to play the organ and competing in the local Perform-O-Rama competition. I love how she goes through 10-year-old drama that any girl can probably relate to. What really got to me though when her dad is too freaked by all the people to watch her performance and her mom misses her birthday and then almost misses her perform because of her dedication to her work. I realized how most kids are just so desperate for their parents' love. Kids can be so forgiving when their parents let them down. It made me think about how much my parents mean to me and how much I really mean to
When I think of Linda Urban's writing, I love being able to think of her characters from A Crooked Kind of Perfect but also from Hound Dog True and The Center of Everything. All of her characters are so memorable. Linda does an amazing job of bringing her characters and their emotions to life. Her writing makes it hard for a reader to not empathize with her characters. As I read Zoe's story, I could feel her vulnerability. She wants her parents to support and believe in her, she wants friends she can connect with. Sadly, she doesn't have those things but we see how she stays true to herself and how things work out for her. I feel so connected to Linda Urban's characters and they have stayed with me to this day.
When I first read this book, Peanut was almost one and now he's almost seven. As a parent, I read this book with a lens for how much Zoe wants to connect with her parents. This book is just as great for adults as for young readers. I think the honesty in this book is what readers will connect with the most. As a mentor text, Linda is a master at developing characters and helping us see into their heads and their hearts.
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7
Read With: Hound Dog True by Linda Urban, Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
Snatch of Text:
"I am not excited. I am the opposite of excited. Never trust an exclamation point."Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you were forced to do something you didn't want to do or that was different from what you expected.
Topics Covered: Family, Friendship, Courage, Determination
I *heart* It: