Eliza Bing is (Not) a Big, Fat Quitter

176p. ebook available. glossary. Holiday House. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823429448. LC 2013015279.
Gr 3–6—Eliza Bing, 11, is not a big, fat quitter, or is she? Her track record isn't great. She has a history of not following through with activities—Junior Scouts, gymnastics, tap, piano…. So, when she wants to sign up for a cake-decorating class with her bakery loving friend, her parents flat-out say no. Eliza strikes a nearly impossible deal with her parents: if she can finish a tae kwon do class over the summer, she can take cake decorating in the fall. For Eliza, this is easier said than done. She has ADHD and no interest whatsoever in martial arts, Master Kim is strict, she can't remember all of the Korean words, and mean girl Madison is in the class. As the summer progresses, Eliza finds it difficult to focus in class and she contemplates quitting, but she is determined not to be a loser. With family support, she finds internal strength she didn't know she had, but an injury threatens her completing the class and earning a yellow belt. Fast moving and humorous with chapter titles such as "Sticky Note to Self: Wear White Underwear on Wednesdays and Saturdays," feisty Eliza will have readers, especially those with ADHD, rooting for her.—Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA
Eleven-year-old Eliza, who has ADHD, really wants to take a cake-decorating class. When she overhears her parents discussing how many activities she starts but never finishes, Eliza proposes to prove them wrong by taking her brother's place in the taekwondo class he has, ironically, quit. Readers will cheer as, much to her surprise, sympathetic Eliza finds focus and success in martial arts. Glos.
Though eleven-year-old Eliza has a history of quitting activities—with her ADHD, she “just got bored fast”—when she tries to complete an entire taekwondo course, she realizes she has more focus and persistence than she thought. Believable family exchanges make Eliza’s predicament relatable. Her dad, for example, is money-conscious after losing his job but is also willing to pay for cake-decorating lessons if Eliza proves she can stick with an activity. Eliza narrates with a likable and authentic voice. For instance, when her brother quits taekwondo after one lesson and Eliza still isn’t allowed to sign up for “Cakes with Caroline,” she laments, “In the history of all unfair things in the world, this had to be in the top ten.” Readers may relate to Eliza’s anxieties about entering a new school in the fall, including her worry that “A bigger school could just mean more people who thought I was weird.” Carmella Van Vleet, who is a taekwondo third-degree black belt, infuses the story with descriptive martial-art scenes.

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