Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Popular British author Wilson's latest may be a tough sell-a novel that looks cheery, with Sharratt's trademark cartoonish illustrations, but contains much darkness. The unfortunately named Beauty Cookson lives with her abusive, obnoxious, financially successful father, Gerry, and her saintly mother, Dilly, his third wife. Both mother and daughter live in fear of setting off Dad, who turns his volcanic temper on them at the slightest provocation. Beauty, a talented student with plain looks, is also unmercifully teased at school. The villains are without nuance-Dad has not a single redeeming quality beyond his income (he abhors art and homemade cookies). Beauty's fear is palpable and sad, but her method of comforting herself by having imaginary conversations with a TV show host (think Blue's Clues with a rabbit) may make her seem delusional. After nearly 200 pages of verbally terrorizing his wife and daughter, Dad does something so horrible that Mom finally flees with Beauty. The happily-ever-after ending seems pat given the gritty stuff that's gone before, but if Wilson's aim was to write a novel that makes a powerful argument for divorce, she's succeeded. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-Beauty Cookson's father spends lavishly on his wife and daughter. They have a beautiful, large house, but it is not a happy home as Beauty and her mother walk on eggshells to keep him from lashing out at them. Beauty's father reminds her frequently that she is plain and tries to make her fit his image with fancy clothes and inappropriate hairdos. Beauty is either bullied or ignored at her private school. Her mother, to help Beauty fare better at school, attempts to make cookies for the class with disastrous results. Still, she keeps trying, and cookie baking becomes their special time together. As Beauty's birthday approaches, her father plans an extravagant celebration with all of her classmates, even those who torment her daily. The event is a disaster. Later, when Mr. Cookson lets loose the rabbit that Beauty received as a gift from the one girl who befriends her and it gets killed, she and her mother leave him. With the help of new friends, the two finally feel safe and discover just how strong-and beautiful-they are. Wilson's talent shows again in this novel with strong, compelling characters and a plot that makes the book hard to put down.-Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas, Denton (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Beauty Cookson feels completely unlike her name, especially when mean girls at school call her Ugly and her rich, shallow father verbally abuses her. A lover of bunnies and art, Cookie is embarrassed that she finds comfort in a young children's television show, which features a rabbit and a young man, whom she pretends talks to her and gives her encouragement. Beauty's father's cruelty to both her and her loving mother overwhelms the first half of the book, and while its heavy-handedness (and frequent use of hell and damn ) may be a lot for some young people to get through, it sets readers up to feel even more proud of Beauty and her mom, who eventually stand up for themselves, call on their own special talents, and start a happy new life. Dame Wilson's fluid mastery of realistic family-and-friend problems is clear in this title, and, as in Wilson's previous books, Sharratt's cartoon-style illustrations introduce and foreshadow the action in each chapter.--Medlar, Andrew Copyright 2009 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Beauty Cookson's father, Gerry, a scheming, status-conscious real-estate developer, is unpredictable and controlling at home. His third, trophy wife is intimidated by him but protective of Beauty, their shy daughter, who is picked on at school and who often retreats deeply into the protective world of her favorite TV show, the gentle, babyish Rabbit Hutch. When Gerry crosses the line into physical bullying, Beauty's mother finally decides to leave and take Beauty with her. Wilson's extraordinary strength is the reliable, deeply comforting nature of her fiction, in which tough subjects are made approachable for younger readers. While she presents a scary situation for Beauty and her mother, the author smoothly removes them to safety and independence. Mother and daughter find ways to be resourceful and sheltered and draw on strengths (including cookie baking) they didn't know they had. Though the resolution may seem like pure wish fulfillment, it is gratifyingly believable. Sharratt's trademark illustrations lend their own kind of comfort by giving a quick graphic preview of what's to come in each chapter. (Fiction. 8-11) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.