Camille McPhee Fell Under the BusTitle: Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus
Author: Kristen Tracy
ISBN: 9780385736879
Pages: 293 pages
Publisher/Date: Delacorte Press, c2009.

Even with my eyes open, things were still pretty dark. I brushed my hair off my face and expected to see some light. But there wasn’t any. That’s when I realized that I was no longer underneath the bright Idaho sky. Somehow, I had fallen and slipped underneath Mrs. Spittle’s bus. The underbelly of the bus was filthy. Dirty chunks of melting ice dripped onto me.
To the right and left of my head were big black tires. Snow was pressed deep into their treads. I growned. Then I heard one of the worst sounds of my life. It was the one sound you never want to hear if you’ve slipped and fallen under your own school bus. I heard teh sound of Mrs. Spittle shutting the bus door. Sssspt. Then, from somewhere deep in my own brain, I heard my father’s words: “Don’t expect life to be fair.” (9)

Camille McPhee is having a rough time as a fourth grader. After her best friend moved from their Idaho town to Japan over the summer, she’s been keeping a low profile at school, convinced that she shouldn’t make any new friends who are going to leave or forget important promises. It’s kind of hard sometimes, not talking or making eye contact with anyone. Not talking about her hypoglycemia, a weird blood sugar thing that sets her apart by being the only student allowed to eat during class. Not talking about her missing pet cat, who she still looks for after three years. And certainly not talking about her parents, who are arguing about finances and taking a break from each other. Especially when her mother is experiencing a “mid-life crisis” and painting the whole house “Eggplant” and her father is going on an extended business trip to Alaska for a month. Oh, and as if things can’t get any worse, she’s a drowning cat in the school play.

The fact that Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus is the least of Camille’s problems in this first novel by Kristan Tracy. Tracy strings together highly improbably occurrances into a highly amusing novel. It’s noted in the about the author and the acknowledgments that the author actually did at one point fall under a schoolbus, which I think adds authenticity and appeal to the story. I found myself really relating to Camille as she tried to navigate the world of “pre-teen”, but that’s probably because she and I have a lot of similarities. Well, not the whole friend moving to Japan, but still enough to make her similar. It’s a light-hearted story, with a happy ending that I thoroughly enjoyed.

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