Reviews

The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee, by Barry Jonsberg

gabs_myfullbookshelf's review against another edition

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3.0

Read more of my reviews at My Full Bookshelf Reviews

3.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Candice Phee; even her name sounds adorably quirky. If I could only use two words to describe what I most liked about this book, they would be Candice Phee. Thank goodness I can use more than two words so I can describe to you why this character is so delightful.

First, Candice is different. She knows full well that she is different than her other classmates. However, she isn't moody or sad about being the odd one out, and she isn't completely without a care about it either. I had never read a book where a character approached not being like everyone else in the same way as Candice did.

Candice is insightful even when she is not trying to be. There were things that she said in the book that were rather profound, and yet she wasn't a 'wise old owl' sort of character. She was simply a girl with a unique view of the world.

Her life story is not necessarily a happy one. Her home life is less than ideal, and how she tries to go about fixing it is both funny and sad at the same time. Funny, because Candice's methods are unorthodox to say the least an sometimes go haywire, and sad because this little girl feels that her family is so dysfunctional that she has to take it upon herself to fix it.

What I did not like about the book was the way it was organized. Sometimes, books told in the forms of essays work. Sometimes, not so much. In this book, I believe that the story would have been better without it being told through Candice's ABC assignment. I felt that at times the story did not flow as well as it should have.

Still, Candice Phee stole my heart. The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee was a heartwarming middle grade read. It had some structure issues, but in the long run, the protagonist made this book worthwhile.

lovelyjanelle13's review against another edition

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4.0

I picked this up at my local library for a quick read to help me get closer to this year’s goal, but I genuinely enjoyed the book. It’s nice to see representation in media, especially in stories geared towards younger kids. It’s definitely the type of book that as a kid I would’ve had a sticky note of words to look up as the main character’s favorite book is the dictionary. The author and the story are in Australia but even being an American I did not have any difficulty understanding any cultural differences. The characters were all incredibly realistic and interesting, I’d definitely recommend this book to pretty much anyone over the age of twelve.

bethebookworm's review against another edition

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3.0

Positives: Neurodivergent main character that actually likes herself and determines to positively impact her life, while not trying to change her own way of being.

Negatives: Simplistic view of depression, some possible ablism in kinda attributing the main character's quirks to her history of loss/trauma (even though she seems to be the only well adjusted person in the book). Adults who totally lack self efficacy.

Sum probably would be a book I'd be willing yo hand an age appropriate teen but would require some unpacking with said hypothetical teen.

avokaddo's review against another edition

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funny lighthearted sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0


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laffy's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

lilsweetiereads's review

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funny lighthearted fast-paced

3.5

shushkeepitdown's review

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adventurous challenging emotional funny inspiring lighthearted reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

A cute book about an unusual girl trying to fix her family using her very straight forward methods. Its sweet and emotional. I loved the characters. The story is shorter but it is to be expected for a book for children. Highly recommend reading it.

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cloudcastle's review

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funny lighthearted mysterious reflective fast-paced

3.0

hsims333's review against another edition

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5.0

This is an excellent book! It isn't eligible for the Newbery because the author is Australian and it was formerly published there under the title 'My Life as an Alphabet" - but it is certainly award worthy!

The book is presented as an autobiographical school assignment and is organized in an alphabetical format. The personality of this unique young girl who loves reading the dictionary, reads nearly only Charles Dickens and uses high level vocabulary has difficulty talking to new people. Luckily she loves to write and is prepared with a notebook at all times. Despite her acknowledged social difficulties, her goal in life is to ensure the happiness of those around her. Although her schemes are not always successful, they are indeed thoughtful, well intentioned and creative.

This story is humorous, heart wrenching and most of all hopeful. It includes themes of self-acceptance, bullying/social rejection, family loss, depression and critical illness,family rifts, education of students who are unique learners and thinkers, a love of writing, and even some scientific explanations of quantum physics and the theory of relativity!

I love, love, love this middle grade novel!

rayraymakay's review

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funny hopeful inspiring lighthearted reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0