By Laurie B. Arnold
When Madison McGee is orphaned and forced to live with her wacky grandmother in boring Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, she’s pretty sure nothing will ever be right again. Her grandmother is addicted to TV shopping shows. Her only neighbors are a crazy lady and a vicious junkyard mutt. And she misses her old lie something fierce.
A jeans and T-shirt kind of girl, Madison refuses to be seen in the “cupcake dresses” her grandmother tries to get her to wear. Everything changes when a MegaPix 6000 TV mysteriously shows up on her doorstep. With the accidental push of a button on the remote control, Madison teleports into a dizzying world of lights, cameras, action, and peril. But with the help of a little magic, she discovers that things aren’t always as they appear to be, and the life can actually get better in a brand new way.
I didn’t know about the magic yet. I only knew my life would never be the same. It was the summer before sixth grade and there I was, a prisoner in the front seat of my grandmother’s sparkly gold Cadillac beast.
About the Story
Madison McGee is starting a new life in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico with her grandmother Florida. Nearly five months ago, Madison’s mother died and now Madison is living thousands of miles from home. Grandma is Florida Brown and lets Madison know her name is Florida not Grandma or any derivative of that name. Florida is a fanatical home shopping shopper who has bought so many tons of items that the house and garage are more storage facility than home.
Very soon, the mysterious “Miracle Movers” deliver Florida a large high-definition television she did not order: the MegaPix 6000. Miracle Mover’s crewman Mike tries to explain the television remote, but Florida states she knows how to use a remote. Mike strongly advises they read the fine print, which Florida also blows off, as if anyone every reads the fine print. She should have read the fine print.
Madison is home alone, cleaning after her new best friend, when she accidentally hits the purple button. Before she can object, she is teleported into a television show . . . a home shopping show. She is the new assistant product demonstrator. The key to returning home is the remote control, which the crew has taken from Madison. Madison begins to appreciate this odd television feature when her grandparents fight. She goes to her favorite show, Just Jessica. The fun soon ends when both Madison and Florida find themselves in a reality television show in the wilderness. A monkey has stolen the remote and now the two must figure out how to get home before one or both die.
What I Thought
I enjoyed reading Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You! The television transporting you into shows is a great idea. The author knows how to write humorously and paced the story well. I read it through twice and enjoyed the second reading as much as the first. Madison starts out rather slow but soon develops into a character I could root on. She finds a friend in a lonely, neglected, and abused bulldog named Leroy. He is a scraggly mutt until Madison washes away all the grime the dog has lived in, and with, away. The same is true of the “crazy lady next door” as the paranoid Florida calls the woman. Madison befriends the woman and there many are lovely scenes as the two find so much in common.
Madison’s grandmother Florida is not as easy to love. She is as odd as a duck in a bathtub. Florida is a cougar with large hair, a good sense of selfishness, and addicted to shopping by television. I did not like the way she treated her granddaughter, whom she insisted on calling her niece. She loved the new MegaPix 6000 and its ability to watch six shows at once that she called it “the best thing that ever happened to me.” Florida’s redemption does come and it is a great scene. Then, it was easy to like Florida.
Grandpa Jack is not a central character, yet he is fun and just what Madison needs to offset Florida. For the past fourteen years, Jack has been paying her bills and her shopping extravaganzas. But, to his credit—and our fun—on his twice monthly trips back home to Truth & Consequences, Jack gathers up a truckload of older unopened merchandise Florida has bought off TV shopping networks. He then takes it all to a flea market where he makes back a couple thousand from her “junk.” Jack is affectionate with Madison and tries to have fun with his granddaughter and put a smile on her face. I love that.
I loved the humor and the first couple of shows that Madison teleported into. She was a bright actor with great adlib lines. Then she goes to a reality show—with Florida—and something or somehow the remote they need to get back home is stolen or lost. The scenes were so dangerous as if saying reality shows themselves were dangerous. Other than this, the story was terrific. (The scenes being against reality shows my just be my interpretation and not the author’s intent).
I think middle grade kids and adults would love reading Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You There is lots of humor and heart, a bit of silliness, and the final television teleporting trip is filled with exciting action. I love that the author wastes no time getting to the plot and moving it forward. Girls may seem a better fit for Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You but boys should not discount this story. There is much in this story of new relationships, love, and acceptance that boys will also like Hello There, We’ve Been Waiting for You.
By Laurie B. Arnold goodreads
Released September 2013
Ages 8 to 12
© 2013 by Laurie Bauman Arnold