4 out of 4 stars
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Navigating pre-adolescence is a tricky proposition. This is the point where one starts to shed the ignorance and innocence of childhood and begins to embrace the complexity of "pre-adulthood." This is when personal identities begin to emerge, ideologies are formed, belief systems start to take shape, and a unique personality starts to emerge from the cocoon of childhood. This book tells the story of Charlene Moynahan (also known as Charlie), a feisty, opinionated, and adventurous ten-year-old girl as she takes her first steps into the murky waters of pre-adolescence.
Charlie is a gifted athlete who cares about nothing but herself. But as she approaches the Christmas of her tenth birthday, she begins to learn certain life lessons which start to shape her perception of life. Running around and playing with her friends during the Advent season, Charlie starts to learn certain character traits, such as selflessness, self-control, and compassion. Even though some of these concepts are foreign to her up till this point, she gradually embraces the change while inwardly battling with the confusion and mixed feelings it generates inside her. Through the Advent season, Charlie and her friends—Rudy, Harold, and Sarah—have an epiphany that will ensure this particular Christmas will be one to remember. What experiences did Charlie and her friends have that began to spark change in the way they perceived life and the world?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Charlie's Christmas Adventure. Using the elements of child-like innocence and humor in his writing, J.E. Solinski indirectly addresses the issues of self-discovery and self-determinism that present themselves as one grows up. I liked how Solinski beautifully portrayed Charlie's doubts, questions, and internal battles and tied them to her experiences in her immediate environment.
It was nice to see how the author utilized adult figures to pass certain messages to the kids. Charlie's parents—her father, especially—never missed an opportunity to teach her one life lesson or another. Her Sunday school teacher, Mr. Powell, and the good ol' Mrs. Harris, also played prominent roles in teaching the kids such character traits as compassion, empathy, and kindness. This showed the importance of role models in shaping kids' lives.
I enjoyed following the metamorphosis of Charlie. She always wanted to be heard among her friends. She always wanted to take charge and show off. Being a gifted athlete with an effervescent personality, she was the quintessential prima donna. It was heartwarming, however, to see her begin to form bonds with Sarah, Harold, and Rudy despite their personality differences. With her limited understanding of the adult world and life in general, her eagerness to learn and growing willingness to accommodate others was lovely to see. I could not help laughing at her childish and funny attempts to make sense of it all, too. Charlie was one heck of a character, and her journey was the best part of this story for me.
There was nothing to dislike about this book. The story developed and flowed at pace, chronicling the daily lives of our protagonist and her friends as Christmas approached. The story's layout was good, and the grammar errors were minimal, which means it was professionally edited. Owing to Charlie's journey, the inclusion of adult role models, and the book's editing, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this tale to children trying to navigate adolescence and their parents, who are trying to be there for them and provide guidance.
Charlie's Christmas Adventure
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