Reviews for Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen

by Niki Lenz

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Fifth grader Bernice is a bully and proud of it. She lives in a trailer in Kansas City with her wild but protective older brothers and her mother, who takes lunch money from Bernice for a new tattoo and dreams of being a star. Bernice has her own dreams: to become a stuntwoman and attend a summer stunt camp, and to move beyond her reputation and hot temper to make a true friend. She gets a chance to wipe the slate clean when her mom heads to Hollywood, leaving Bernice in the care of her sister, a Sister, at the abbey where she lives with a small group of quirky nuns-one of them "speaks only in children's book quotes." Bernice struggles to change with the help of the nuns, a new friend, and horseback riding and stunt lessons, but when she sees the chance to get money for camp by creating a fake fund-raiser for the abbey, she must decide who she really is. Bernice's sometimes harsh home conditions and how they contribute to her unkind ways are sensitively portrayed and well balanced with humor and Bernice's spirited narration. Ages 8-12. Agent: Kate Testerman, KT Literary. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Fifth-grader Bernice has no friends due to her reputation as a fearsome bully.She lashes out at everyone, especially those who taunt her and reinforce her vision of herself as fat, ugly, and stupid. But early on readers learn other truths about her. Her four older brothers are out of control, and her mother is completely self-centered and a bully herself. Bernice doesn't even have a real bed in their cramped trailer. The public library is her only sanctuary, and the librarian encourages her to research information on the computer. She dreams of attending a stunt camp and devises a fraudulent story for a funding website, managing to raise a substantial sumwhich her mother promptly steals from her to use for her own California dream. Bernice is sent to live with her aunt at St. Drogo's, a tiny church and abbey in the town of Halfway, Texas. Sister Mary Margaret, aka Aunt Josephine, is welcoming and kind, as are the other nuns. Here she is determined to become the New Bernice. There are a few hilarious glitches along the way and one very serious setback, but she makes a friend, learns to ride a horse, and saves the church from closing. Lenz employs several stereotypes in setting and charactersBernice's family are collectively the cartoon embodiment of "poor white trash"but Bernice is pragmatic, complex, and compelling, and she has a heart of gold.Yay for Bernice. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Bernice Buttman sleeps on a moldy mattress in a tiny mobile home crowded with six other people. The school bully, Bernice is not liked by her schoolmates, but still secretly longs for a friend. Bernice, who dreams of becoming a Hollywood stuntwoman, thinks that the only way she can escape her sad situation is to raise money for stunt camp. A money-making scheme mostly consisting of lies is going great, until her mom finds out. But rather than make her apologize, Bernice's mom steals the money herself, drops Bernice off with her aunt, who's a nun, and takes off for California to become a star. In the abbey, Bernice is surprised that she gets her own room, and maybe a chance at friendship. Her constant battle to do the right thing is charming. Though she slips here and there, her heart is in the right place, and this is a careful examination of how tough circumstances can lead to bad behavior in the right situation, Bernice flourishes. A heartwarming story with plenty of gross-out humor to hook readers.--Rosie Camargo Copyright 2019 Booklist

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