Beth Lambert thinks that Philip Hall is the cutest boy in school, and he's the best at everything. Or is he? Maybe Beth has allowed her feelings to get in the way, and is just letting Philip be the best. Well, not anymore. Whether it's catching turkey thieves, running a vegetable stand, raising calves or doing well in school, Beth is out to prove that she can be the best at everything. But will Philip still like her and want to be friends if he's no longer #1?
Even though Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. was a Newbery Honor Book back in 1975 (when I was a kid), for some reason, I had never heard of it until recently. I probably never would have found it on my own if I hadn't been introduced to Bette Greene through her wonderful young adult novel, Summer of My German Soldier. After reading that and its sequel I decided to check out Ms. Greene's other works. I'm so glad I did, because my exploration led me to this wonderful little gem of a children's book. It is a very light-hearted story that is quite different in tone from Ms. Green's young adult books, and in my opinion, showcases her versatility as an author.
Beth Lambert, the main protagonist and first-person narrator of the story, is cute as a button, smart as a whip with lots of imagination, spunky, determined, and oh, so funny. She had me almost constantly chuckling, if not laughing out loud through the entire book. I just loved reading about all of her adventures, or misadventures, as the case may be. The main focus of Beth's narration is her relationship with her best friend, Philip Hall, "the cutest boy in school." I was positively tickled by how Philip goes from being "the sweetest boy ever," to doing or saying something dumb which turns him into, "a dirty, rotten polecat." Then he does or says something nice that gets him back in Beth's good graces. These two also have a friendly rivalry going, each trying to one up the other to be the best or smartest at everything, as well as a bit of a battle of the sexes. It was like reading a love/hate romance between two twelve-year-olds, and it was absolutely adorable and hilarious. However, interspersed between their intellectual and verbal duels are some very sweet, tender moments that are full of heart.
There are lots of other characters too, including Beth's family who are very loving and supportive, her girl's club, The Pretty Pennies, and Philip's boy's club, The Tiger Hunters. Whether she was trying to catch turkey thieves, getting a new puppy only to find out she's allergic to it, standing up for what's right, rescuing Philip from the mountain, or raising a calf for 4-H, Beth was always in fine form. Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. was a fast-paced and throughly fun read. It had just one mild profanity and other than that was a completely "clean" book that I would highly recommend to kids, parents, teachers or anyone who likes to read a good children's story. Although there doesn't appear to be an official series designation, Philip Hall Likes Me. I Reckon Maybe. is the first of three books about Beth and Philip. The other two are Get on out of Here, Philip Hall and I've Already Forgotten Your Name, Philip Hall!. With yet another winner, Bette Greene is solidifying her place on my favorite authors list, and I can't wait to read the other two books in the series.
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