Books & Reviews

A Girl Called Al

ALA Notable Book

Al, the new girl who moved down the hall, is a little on the fat side, a non-conformist, and a very interesting person. So begins the warm, funny, utterly real story of the friendship between two girls in a New York City apartment house.

Both the pre-teen protagonists and the minor performers—sketched with admirable economy—are accurately and affectionately drawn…

The New York Times

I Know You, Al

In this touching, hilarious sequel to A Girl Called Al, Al’s divorced mother has a boyfriend, Al’s father appears after eight years of silence with a rather remarkable invitation, and Al fights a losing battle with needlepoint, bangs, and physical nonconformity.

…as sassy and bright an evocation of two junior high school girls’ sojourn through adolescence as you’re likely to find…Everyone lives happily ever after in a swirl of witty conversation, confetti, and at least halfhearted forgiveness for the fact that parents aren’t perfect.

The New York Times Book Review

Your Old Pal, Al

A sequel to A Girl Called Al and I Know You, Al, this time around Al’s best friend invites a sophisticated girl named Polly to stay while her parents are in Africa. Al’s jealousy and her awkward reconciliation will be recognized by any reader who has ever had a fight with a best friend.

The author has an ear for the speech and humor of twelve-year-old girls, revealing to readers the warmth, wackiness, sturdy self-possession, and moment of vulnerability that make Al so likable.

School Library Journal

Alexandra the Great

Al’s looking forward to escaping the hot, sticky streets of New York City when she visits her father and step-family over the summer. But when her plans—for picnics, barn dances and reconnecting with Brian, the boy she met last summer—fall apart after her mother gets sick, her best friend steps in to offer comfort like only a best friend can.

An amusing and engaging story…(with) characters that are fresh and appealing.

Horn Book

Just Plain Al

At thirteen nearly fourteen, Al’s ready to reinvent herself. A new name, and a less uptight outlook. Then again, it wouldn’t hurt if she looked more like a model…

Al’s fans will love this…There is not a wasted scene; every line of dialogue crackles with wit.

Kirkus Review

Al’s Blind Date

Al, now fourteen, is suddenly officially grown up and ready for her first date. So when her best friend Polly’s cousin Harry and his friend need dates for a dance, Al and Polly are ready to roll.

Constance C. Greene’s beloved Al is back in another hilarious story with “the same snappy dialogue and typical teenage humor (that) keep Al’s fans hungry for more.

Publisher’s Weekly

The Love Letters of J. Timothy Owen

The ultimate romantic, sixteen-year-old Tim thinks the perfect way to woo his secret love is to send her copies of famous love poems written throughout history, but a major misunderstanding threatens his carefully laid plans.

Greene, veteran of snappy dialogue, genuine humor, and warm family relationships, has created a thoroughly likable hero.

School Library Journal

The Ears of Louis

Louis has really big ears, small muscles, and a problem with the kids at school who won’t leave him alone. After he starts wearing his football helmet, night and day, in an effort to hide those ears, something amazing happens that changes everything.

Humor and writing style make this book enjoyable.

Center for Children’s Books

I and Sproggy

When ten-year-old Adam’s stepsister, Sproggy, arrives with his father and his new wife, Adam’s New York City life is upended. For starters, Sproggy’s from England, and says weird things like ‘jolly super.’ And then, to make matters worse, even his friends start liking her!

A sympathetic, funny and touching novel.

School Library Journal

Isabelle the Itch

Isabelle doesn’t often do, or say, the right thing, but after taking over her brother’s paper route, she begins to channel her boundless energy and finds a way to turn former enemies into friends.

A refreshing book in many ways; the ten-year-old heroine is in perpetual motion, running, fighting, and talking. This is fun to read alone or out loud.

ALA Booklist

Isabelle Shows Her Sutff

Eight-year-old Guy is sick of being known as a ‘goody-goody.’ That’s why he accepts an offer from Isabelle, a famously pesky itch, to teach him how to be more like her. Both are surprised when her lessons end up showing them what it really means to be a tough guy.

Isabelle is overconfident, occasionally tactless and impulsive, but also thoughtful, witty, honest and almost always amusing.” School Library Journal; “Greene has written a spirited story filled with memorable characters…Fans will be delighted.

ALA Booklist

Isabelle and Little Orphan Frannie

When Isabelle adopts a new protegee, she’s awed to find out that Frannie is even more skilled than she is at wrapping adults around her little finger. But can Isabelle teach Frannie, who turns out to be a very challenging pupil, the one major thing she needs to know?

Isabelle returns in a hilarious new romp that will delight her many fans and win her new ones.

ALA Booklist

Ask Anybody

When Schuyler meets Nell, the new girl in school who paints her fingernails green, wears makeup and doesn’t seem to care what anybody thinks, she’s intrigued. Nell’s tough—she claims that she and Schuyler are a lot alike because they both put themselves first. But Sky’s not sure. Is that, or following Nell’s lead, a good thing?

Greene, a master at character portrayals, underscores her theme with sharp, witty dialogue and narrative, packing more insights and perceptions into this spare, highly readable novel than can be found in many a longer book.

ALA Booklist

Beat the Turtle Drum

ALA Notable Book, A New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year

“Joss will be eleven next month. I’m almost thirteen. Oddly enough, we’re very good friends. It’ s a rare thing to be friends with your sister especially when she’s your parents’ favorite…” So begins the unforgettable tale of a young girl coming to terms with her sister’s sudden death.

A book to read and remember.

Publisher’s Weekly

Star Shine

When their stage-struck mother joins a summer theater group and leaves home for several weeks, Jenny and Mary convince their father they can take care of themselves. Then a movie company comes to town and everyone, including both sisters, wants a part. When Jenny lands one, and her sisters and friends don’t, things get messy.

Typical of Greene’s books, this one also stresses values over action and tries to prove that things are not always as they seem to be on the surface.

Kirkus Review

Dotty’s Suitcase

Twelve-year-old Dotty dreams of travel that would take her far away from her poor, Depression-era town. If only she had a suitcase, that would be her ticket to adventure. Suddenly, one stuffed with cash almost falls into her lap, and Dotty discovers that maybe she was wishing for the wrong things all along.

The characterization has depth and perception, with astute depiction of relationships both in exposition and in the excellent dialogue.

The Best in Children’s Books: The University of Chicago

The Unmaking of Rabbit

Smaller than the other boys, with ears that stick out, eleven-year-old Paul earns the unhappy nickname Rabbit, but that’s not his biggest problem. With no father around, few friends and a mother who’s never there, Paul waits for something that will turn his life around.

Readers will share Paul’s final elation just as they’ve shared his tensions and disappointments and semi-hysterical laughter, for Constance Greene’s brisk, unsentimental telling is studded with the sharp, spontaneous observations that brought A Girl Called Al and Leo the Lioness to life.

Kirkus Review

Double Dare O’Toole

Fex O’Toole has a big problem. He can’t resist a double dare, even if it invariably means getting into trouble. Then one night, at a boy-girl party, the lights go out and the fateful double dare is whispered into his ear…

Greene fills (the story) out with assorted amusing encounters that put across Fex’s perplexity and discomfort appealingly.

Kirkus Review

Leo the Lioness

A younger sister and middle child, Tibb has growing pains and is, as her mother says, “where the brook and the river meet.” At thirteen, with zits, no figure and a sister and best friend who are boy crazy,Tibb battles the inevitable changes that come with begin a teenager. Good thing she’s a Leo, the strongest zodiac sign of all.

From the author of ‘A Girl Called Al,’ a snappy, 20-20 view of adolescence.

Kirkus Review

The Good-Luck Bogie Hat

It’s possible that being in love for the first time is even harder on boys than on girls, Charlie doesn’t really know. All he knows is that Ben, his older brother who wears stylish second-hand clothes and a cool fedora, seems utterly possessed by a girl.

Getting Nowhere

Furious at his father for remarrying, and angry when the guys at school play a practical joke on him, making him look silly in front of a girl, 14-year old Mark finds himself generally mad at everything. But being angry all the time is exhausting, and self-destruction is a lousy plan for someone who wants to grow up.

Monday I Love You

I am the most popular girl in the entire tenth grade. I am long and lean and sinuous…Fifteen year old Grace lies a lot. She’s lonely, unpopular, and is saving up for an operation to reduce the size of her 38D breasts. After surviving a cruel prank, and then encountering a puzzling coincidence, she manages to emerge stronger and ready to change her life.

Odds on Oliver

All Oliver really wants is to be a hero—but it’s not that easy being heroic. Held hostage in a stick-up, stuck in a tree, sprayed by a skunk—it seems as if Oliver will never achieve hero status. Then his dog chokes on a chicken bone, and Oliver’s big moment arrives.

Greene’s first foray into humorous fiction for a younger audience than her popular Al and Isabelle series.

Kirkus Review

Nora: Maybe a Ghost Story

It’s been three years since Nora and Patsy’s mother died, and though they’re eager for him to be happy again, they dread the thought of their father remarrying. Suddenly Nora begins to feel her mother’s gentle touch, hear her laughter and get comfort from her spiritual presence. Maybe it’s time for their father to make his own choices, and for both sisters to move forward with their own lives.

From the first page, masterly comic timing and sharp, witty observations (from a protagonist who could be a cousin to the narrator of the author’s Al books) firmly establish that the reader had entered Greene territory.

Publishers Weekly