Rating: 1-5: (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 2
Genre: Realistic, Fantasy, Holiday, Christmas
What did you like about the book? Middle schooler Nick Dashaway feels he is destined for better things than his current loser status. For Nick’s upcoming birthday on Christmas Day, one of his two best friends, Plum, gives him an early present, a cupcake that will grant his heart’s desire. Though skeptical, Nick wishes for “a better, much cooler life” whereupon he is delivered by a crazy Christmas decorated bus to an alternate universe in which he is a rich, famous pop star. All his friends and family are still in his life, but they now fit Nick’s definition of “better” versions of themselves. Nick has five days to decide whether to keep this version of reality or return to his original life. It takes Nick awhile, but he discovers how much he misses his true family and friends.
Anything you didn’t like about it? This derivative of “It’s a Wonderful Life” fell flat for several reasons, the biggest being that Nick is not likeable the way George Bailey is. In addition, the other characters were hard to keep straight because none of them had much real personality.
To whom would you recommend this book? Fans of Alyson Noël’s previous books might enjoy this one as well.
Read-alikes: For a more realistic middle grade Christmas book, aim readers towards the fourth book in Naylor’s Shiloh Quartet, A Shiloh Christmas.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries with a healthy budget looking for more middle grade books with a Christmas setting.
Where would you shelve it? Shelve in Fiction or in Fantasy if you have Genre shelving.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Mary Melaugh, Marshall Middle School Library, Billerica, MA
Date of review: 2/24/17