Gaetz, Dayle Campbell. Spoiled Rotten. Orca Currents, 2005. ISBN 978-1551434742 128 pp. $9.95
Jessica is not adjusting well to her father’s recent remarriage to a woman who seems to be the antithesis of her nature-loving mother. To make matters worse, stepmom Patti comes with baggage: her bratty daughter named Amy who is used to getting her own way through any means necessary. A boating vacation meant to bring the family together causes more turmoil. When Jessica tries to sneak off for a solo hike, Amy is hot on her heels, but unused to the rigors of hiking.
The wilderness surrounding the scenic Powell River in British Columbia Canada becomes a threatening character, as the girls face potential grizzly bears, exposure and even falling and getting hurt. Dramatic tension is heightened as the tale evolves, with the elements waxing as the conflict between the girls wanes. Jessica’s character development is driven by the action and she emerges from being “spoilen rotten” herself to maturity and acceptance of change, making believable magnanimous gestures to indicate an improved attitude toward her new family members.
The linear plot, 2.8 reading level and first person point of view will especially appeal to reluctant readers. Although the story has enough adventure to hold a boy’s attention in spite of the (strong) female protagonists, the hot pink cover may be a deterrent.