by Melissa Perry Moraja
Melissa Productions 11/13/2013
Age s7 to 9 142 pages
“Madison Wunderkind is a sweet honest girl who always seems to find herself in trouble with the principal. But this time she’s not alone. It all started three days earlier, when Sofia, the most popular fifth-grade girl at Gator Elementary, asked Madison to hang out and plan this year’s talent show. Instantly, Madison had become Little Miss Popular. But what Madison soon discovered was that being Little Miss Popular wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Her best friends were ignoring her. Her brothers were angry at her.
“And her klutzy, curious guardian angel, GA, was irritated by her snobbish attitude. And if things couldn’t get more messed up for Madison, everything that could go wrong at the talent show did, sparking Principal Dimples to find out why! Find out what happens at Gator Elementary’s Talent Show. Will GA be able to help Madison? Or will Madison become Little Miss Lonely?”
“Hi. I’m Madison Wunderkind and I’m ten years old. (sic) I’m so excited to share another story with you, especially because I love telling stories.”
Ten-year-old Madison suddenly becomes friends with the most popular girl at school. Together, the two girls will plan the school talent show. Madison would be the stage manager and Sophia the emcee. Madison begins hanging out with Sophia and her friends, sitting at the back of the school bus with the other popular kids, eating lunch at the cool table, and spending time at Sophia’s home. Madison’s best friends, Reagan, Alaina, and MacKenzie, suddenly excluded from Madison’s life, become angry and ignore Madison. Josh and Jake, Madison’s brothers, nickname her “Little Miss Popular.”
The talent show is a success, only because of a few secret sabotages thought up by Sophia and carried out by her brother Aiden. Principal Dimples is not happy. Borrowed without permission, school pets became lost, painted, and roamed the stage during the wrong act. Madison also has a guardian angel she refers to as “GA.” Madison is the only one who can see her angel and the two communicate through telepathy. Instead of helping Madison—and earning more feathers for her wings—GA innocently causes more problems. For Madison’s part, she is afraid to challenge anyone, especially Sophia. This makes life more difficult for Madison, her brothers, and best friends. Madison could lose all of her friends and become “Little Mid Lonely” or she could find the inner strength to do the right thing. But which will she choose?
The Wunderkind Family Series, based on the author’s family, means there is one awesome family with special powers, and cute stories young girls will love. Madison is a fourth grader who is elevated in popularity by fifth grader Sophia. Instantly, Madison’s brothers nickname her “Little Miss Popular” and soon the name is a perfect fit. Madison ignores her friends, mainly because she does not want to annoy Sophia and lose her place as a cool girl. Most of Madison’s actions come from her fear of upsetting whomever she is with at that moment. .
Madison narrates the story. At many times she speaks directly with the reader. The character/narrator speaking directly to the reader puts the reader into the story in a role they would not choose. For children’s books, speaking directly to the child removes any possibility of the child seeing itself in the story and as a character of their choosing.
The story begins at the end, waiting in the principal’s office, wondering what is happening. This is a fine technique if Madison had not explained the entire story in chapter one. Before the story begins, she has told you what will happen. Why read on? Skipping the first two chapters makes for a better story. Chapter 3 begins three days prior. Madison is a spunky young girl. She views being popular as a step up in the middle grade world. Soon she questions this world, begins to figure out the uselessness, and yet takes a little longer to remove herself. Her progression felt realistic.
As narrator, Madison took to defining some of the words she used. This acts like a bump in the road, pulling the reader’s attention out of the story and onto a word definition. Most of the words are understandable in context. Stating definitions takes away the child’s opportunity to use a dictionary. Lemony Snicket, in A Series of Unfortunate Events, defined words, doing so in his humoristic way that felt natural, not a stop. It is not easy to define words without taking the reader out of the story.
Well, what is good about Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show? Plenty. Madison’s transformation into a popular, snobbish girl seemed right on the mark. The transformation is quick, good friends ignored, and family concerned. Madison loves her position, but is insecure in her role as cool girl. She worries about losing her standing, while at the same time hoping it will never end. She justifies her behavior saying everyone wants to be popular, sit at the cool table, and have everyone else know everything about them. This is not true, only justification for her behavior. She has yet realized what she has lost. Her character is the perfect transformation of average kid to popular kid.
Soon, Madison will realize this group of popular girls is really one popular girl—Sophia—and the rest an entourage, all replaceable to Sophia. Madison soon figures out what she lost are worth more than what she thought she had gained. And realizes being cool is a fleeting thing. All three are good messages to kids, especially girls.
I loved the talent show and wish there were more scenes. The crazy things that went on backstage and on stage were great. I think this is the first story I have reviewed with a guardian angel taking a center role. Gazardiella Arielaperara, or GA, is a hoot. She seems to do the things Madison thinks about doing but will not and acts as Madison’s spy.
One big problem in some stories is telling rather than showing. If GA had gotten the information Madison sought, telling would have become a problem. The author is smarter than that and instead thwarts GA’s attempts or has GA forget her role, sending her off like the distracted preteen she is in the land of angels. GA getting her wings, one feather at a time, may keep the series running for many more editions.
Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show takes Madison and her friends and brothers into a world that none of them belong and shows the reader this in humorous ways, with inventive dialogue. The illustrations are black and white line drawings, which enhance the story. Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show takes girls into the land of the popular, then rescues them just in time for the next edition of The Wunderkind Family Series. Young girls will love this series of chapter books and find many ways to relate to Madison and her friends. The Wunderkind Family Series is a series to keep up with as it grows and Madison ages into a teen.
AWARDS – 2013 Mom’s Choice Award
Learn more about Madison & GA, Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show HERE.
THE WUNDERKIND FAMILY SERIES: TALE OF THE MESSED UP TALENT SHOW. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Melissa Perry Moraja. Reproduced by permission of the publisher,Melissa Productions.
ALSO BY MELISSA PERRY MORAJA
Madison & GA: The Tale of the Slimy Spitball
Jake’s Adventure: Tale of the Pesky Flies
Jake’s Adventure: The Secret of the Shark Tooth Crab Claw
Splatter & Friends: Red Light, Green Light, Splat
Splatter & Friends: Goodnight, Goodnight Baby Blue
Splatter & Friends: Apricot Saves the Day