A Review of "Stella Batts Needs a New Name" in Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly (Feb 2012)
First in a series featuring eight-year-old Stella, Sheinmel’s unassuming story, cheerily illustrated by Bell, is a reliable read for those first encountering chapter books. An aspiring writer, Stella tells her story in the form of an autobiography, describing her daily life as a third-grader with a pesky younger sister, mildly annoying classmates, and a few good friends. Stella’s father and pregnant mother own a candy store, complete with a chocolate waterfall and party room. But even though the store sells fudge named after her, Stella has developed a dislike of her name following an embarrassing incident in which she earned the nickname “Smella” (“I’m going to leave out that part,” she initially insists). When she changes her name her friends follow suit, leading to some unconventional choices like “Caramel” and “Scheherazade,” as well as identity confusion and bickering. With a light touch, Sheinmel (All the Things You Are) persuasively conveys elementary school dynamics; readers may recognize some of their own inflated reactions to small mortifications in likeable Stella, while descriptions of unique candy confections are mouth-watering. Ages 5–9. Agent: Alex Glass, Trident Media Group.