“That’s not going to happen,” or The Rainbow Kid

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I had fond memories of this book, but it wasn’t one that I was rushing out to get. But then I came across it in the used book store, and I was shocked to see that it was written by Jeanne Betancourt – a BSC ghostwriter! I get excited over stupid things.

This book is told from Aviva Granger’s point of view. She’s a sixth grader who’d come home from summer camp to the news that her parents split up. So she goes through the what most juvenile lit kids with newly divorced parents goes through -the attempts to get her parents back together.

Aviva doesn’t tell her friends that her parents split up. On her first day of school, Aviva is thrilled that after five years of Catholic education, she finally gets a nun for a teacher – the strict Sister Bernard Marie. Sister makes the students write ten words that describe their summer, and Aviva doesn’t do the assignment exactly. She draws a rainbow covered by heavy clouds and black raindrops. In an unusual show of sympathy, Sister pats Aviva on the shoulder and tells her maybe her fall will be better.

It doesn’t get better. Aviva is a joint custody kid. She spends one week with her mom at their old house, and the next week at her dad’s in his new apartment. Aviva accidentally on purpose leaves a history paper at her dad’s apartment, so on Monday morning her mom has to drive her there to pick it up before school. Mom refuses to come up though, and Aviva walks in her dad’s apartment and sees the blond Vivian making coffee. She’s disgusted and leaves.

Aviva has a mortal enemy, Josh Greene. For some reason kids in her school are assigned seats by height, and as a tall girl, Aviva always ends up in the back with a bunch of boys. (I didn’t think there were height differences until after puberty, but what do I know.) Josh always picks on her, and one day after school, he makes fun of her so she punches him in the gut and spits in his face. She runs away. Then he writes her poorly-spelled somewhat threatening letters.

One day while Aviva’s grocery shopping (her dad lives across the street from a shopping center), she leaves her dog, Mop (a hundred pound sheepdog) tied to a bike rack. As she’s leaving, she can hear a boy playing with Mop and asking his Nana if he can have a dog. Mop likes the boy a lot. But when Aviva gets there, she notices it is none other than enemy #1, Josh Greene. She yells at him and takes Mop back to the apartment, where the super immediately tells her it’s a no-pets building.

Aviva begs her dad to move, but he won’t, and Mop will have to stay at the mom’s house full-time. Since mom works, someone needs to be hired to walk Mop after school while Aviva is at her dad’s house. Avivia is all ‘fuck that shit,’ and she packs up a camping pack and runs away with Mop one morning when she’s supposed to be going to school.

She stays all day in the woods, but is woken in the middle of the night by a howling Mop. There’s something wrong with him and she can’t figure it out. So she and Mop make it back to her dad’s apartment just before dawn the next morning. Her parents are there together, and her dad pulls over thirty dime-sized ticks out of Mop’s fur.

Aviva’s birthday is on Halloween, and she always has a pre-trick or treating birthday party. She invites her dad and he shows up, but fights with her mom, which embarrasses the shit out of Aviva. Then Josh Greene shows up and eggs Aviva in her giraffe costume. She takes some eggs out to get him back, only to realize it wasn’t Josh, but his best buddy Tommy. Aviva and Josh work together to egg Tommy.

The next day at school, Aviva finds out that her mom had hired someone to walk Mop after school on her dad weeks. It makes Aviva happy. Then she finds out it’s Josh Greene. She’s actually kind of OK with it, since she knows Josh likes Mop and Mop likes Josh.

  • I know I’ve talked about this before, but some of these names are really anachronistic. Aviva’s friends at school are Sue, Louise, Janet and Rita. These are eleven and twelve year old girls in the early-80s. Their mothers would have names like that. These girls should be named things like Lisa, or Michelle, or Melissa, or Jennifer.
  • And speaking of names, I adore Aviva because it’s a palindrome.
  • And I like the name Mop for a sheepdog.
  • This book is called The Rainbow Kid because Aviva has adopted rainbows as her unofficial symbol. She thinks they stand for happiness. But then her parents get divorced and she rethinks the whole rainbow thing.
  • But at the end of the book, she has to make a collage about herself, and she ends up connecting the Dad part of her life and the Mom part of her life with a big rainbow.
  • Unexpected cursing! Aviva calls the super in her dad’s building a jackass. That never happened in the BSC.
  • This is what was annoying about this book. The author has a habit of telling the reader things by saying “this is what xxx.” For example: “This is how many ticks my dad got off of Mop. Thirty One.”  or, “This is what I took to my dad’s house. (then lists a few things.)” So annoying.
  • Aviva’s mom writes her absent notes for school by writing “Please excuse Aviva from school yesterday. Her absence was unavoidable.” Aviva likes that her mom protects her privacy like that, because she once noticed a girl in her class giving the teacher a note that said, “Please excuse Rita from school yesterday. She had diarrhea.” I find that absolutely hilarious.
  • Also, how shitty of it was of her dad to move into a building with a no-pet policy? Her dad knows how close Aviva is to her dog, and maybe after a traumatic event like a divorce, he shouldn’t really separate them.
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About nikkihb

Wife. Mother. Reader. Blogger.
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9 Responses to “That’s not going to happen,” or The Rainbow Kid

  1. Caterina says:

    I am beyond amused that apparently “Aviva” is a name for a good Catholic girl. I guess she could be Jewish on her dad’s side and therefore technically a goy…?

    • nikkihb says:

      They never mention her religion specifically. Though she’s thrilled to have a nun teacher, so I’m guessing not Catholic. Non-Catholics seem a lot more interested in nuns than Catholics do.

      The funny thing is, when I read this as a kid, I didn’t realize how Jewish the name Aviva is. But now as a name-enthusiast, I know.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Quote: (I didn’t think there were height differences until after puberty, but what do I know.)

    Girls tend to have their growth spurts up until they start their first period, and then their growth slows dramatically (probably so that more resources can go to a possible pregnancy, rather than height and such), whereas boys tend to grow later than the girls. I was my full adult height by my 13th birthday and I towered over almost all the boys in my class (my dad, who is 6’1″, was 5 feet even when he graduated 8th grade). Getting to high school where guys were hugely tall and some of them even had beards (this was shocking to me, coming from a small Catholic school!) was a relief!

    • nikkihb says:

      That’s interesting. So the fact that Aviva has spent her entire school career sitting with boys isn’t quite right (though it could be – just coincidentally).

  3. Yay, glad to see a book review again! Jeanne Betancourt also wrote a series of books about a ballet student named Drina that I LOVED. (I’m pretty sure that was Betancourt, anyway.) Never read this one, but yeah, agreed about the names. I knew so many Michelles and Jennifers as a child of the 80’s, I cannot even tell you. And then Lauren (my real name) got popular in the late 80’s/90’s.

    • nikkihb says:

      I’ve been soooo bad about updating with book reviews. I just went to the used book store a couple weeks ago, and my older kiddo went back to school this week. I’m going to TRY to do a couple book reviews a month.

      Incidentally, this is also my five-year anniversary of blogging. How crazy is that?

  4. Alicia says:

    “This is what was annoying about this book. The author has a habit of telling the reader things by saying “this is what xxx.” For example: “This is how many ticks my dad got off of Mop. Thirty One.” or, “This is what I took to my dad’s house. (then lists a few things.)” So annoying.”

    Have you noticed that many children’s chapter books are written in a choppy style with lost of incomplete sentences? It’s not so noticeable until you have to read that mess out loud. *SO* irritating! I wish the authors would at least write in complete sentences.

    • nikkihb says:

      YES, I have noticed it. I especially noticed it when reading Magic Treehouse books to my kid. I sometimes just re-word things and combine sentences.

      • Alicia says:

        Glad to know I’m not the only one! It feels like the authors are reinforcing bad writing habits when they write like that. It’s bad enough with text-speak and spelling/grammar on social media, does it have to be in books, too?

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