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The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by…
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The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee

by Barry Jonsberg

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Quirky book about a girl who makes her first friend, who happens to be from another dimension, and helps put her family back together. Very enjoyable read. Kids will enjoy it - though they may want to try jumping out of trees after doing so! ( )
  ReadHanded | Jul 23, 2016 |
How much you like this will depend on how well you can suspend disbelief. ?ŠJust because Candice reads the dictionary does not mean she can be this articulate. ?√ɬ°Especially given the, erm, 'interesting' things going on in her life. ?√ɬ°I kept getting pulled out of the story, muttering yeah, right." ?√ɬ°But at the same time I was utterly charmed and having a very good time reading it. ?√ɬ°I would love more books like it, too. ?√ɬ°Heck, even a sequel to this. ?√ɬ°Sunny, warm, but not afraid to admit that kids face challenges that we wish they wouldn't need to.

And I love the voice of Candice, even if I don't know if any child would ever talk quite like this. ?á"Mom gave the puzzled nod another airing."" ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
This book just didn't appeal. I did not like Candice's voice at all and thought she needed bringing down a peg or two! ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 22, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Only a short time after Boo, I read another ARC about a quirky kid. Candice isn't in thirteen year old American heaven like Boo is, but she is in Australia, which even knowing a fair number of Australians outside of Australia, as well as non-Australians who have been to Australia, I'm not completely convinced actually exists. Sort of like thirteen year old American heaven. Australia ... phsaw.

So, The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee is a middle-grade novel (the back suggests "ages 10 + up"), so I read it out loud to my six year old, because six, ten, same thing, right? Quality bonding time plus moving down my ARC pile (sorry it took me a year to read your ARC book Barry Jonsberg).

The book is a diary-style format, twenty-six chapters, each lettered in order of the alphabet. Candice is unorthodox in a completely adorable way, just doing her own things, thinking her thoughts, not super concerned about not fitting in. She has her goldfish and her family and friends who don't know they're her friends yet. There's the standard traditional middle-grade novel tropes (think like 1980s before all the books were about dystopian vampires competing in elaborate televised games using magic to save their alternative society): a gentle love story, a bully overcome by the power of kindness, the tween's chaotic maneuverings saving the day/her parents' marriage/her father's company/etc. It's a nice change to have an optimistic book for younger readers that isn't saccharine or formulaic or made more to sell swag than stories. Sometimes YA et al. is just so unremittingly dour.

Not to say that we're running through a marigold pony unicorn rainbow field of marshmallows with The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee. There's a lot of downers. Maybe too many downers (SIDS, depression, breast cancer, divorce, familial strife, bullying, inter-dimensional travel and its consequences). Many of the downers seem more like scaffolding to the story (SIDS and breast cancer mainly). It's strong enough to stand on its own without them. People don't necessarily need a reason to be depressed. Sometimes people just are.

"Will there be a sequel?" my six year old asked as we finished it. So that's a big thumbs up from her.

The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg went on sale September 9, 2014.

I received a copy free from Librarything in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  reluctantm | Oct 5, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received this book through the early reviewers program at librarything and thoroughly enjoyed it.
This is a young adult novel, but adults will enjoy it as well.
Candace is a quirky and interesting character, and her interactions with the other characters will make your middle school readers want to finish this book quickly. They will enjoy the short chapters as well - one for each letter of the alphabet. The book's humorous tone will also be a big draw. ( )
  JulieZ0 | Apr 9, 2015 |
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The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee had been released in Australia under the title of "My Life as the Alphabet."
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Candice is a twelve-year-old optimist, with a literal mind, the very best of intentions, and an unwavering determination to fix all the problems of her family, friends, pets, and everyone in her life.

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