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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
Bumbling Bea is a story that will echo the experiences of many youngsters. Beatrice regrets that her parents live apart and she often blames her father. However, Beatrice attributes disasters, resulting mostly from activities aimed at being popular at school, to Bumbling Bea, her alter ego. Bumbling Bea ignores Beatrice’s own opinion that she has no talent for acting and goes ahead to audition for the leading role in the annual play. She reckons without Michiko, a Japanese girl new to the school, but Bumbling Bea conceives a diabolical plan to defeat the stranger. When Beatrice’s alter ego takes over, any skulduggery goes.
Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin cannot fail to become a favourite with pre-teen readers, and very likely teenagers too, because the mixture of pathos and humour is so realistic. Ms Baldwin establishes Beatrice’s character before the subject of playing Pocahontas arises. When it does, Beatrice finds that the play is a modern rewrite of the one she had used to rehearse, immersing herself in the part of Pocahontas. How can she do a good audition? Alter ego Bumbling Bea’s muddles and misguided remarks already had me laughing aloud; I couldn’t wait to find out how far she would go to stop her new Japanese classmate, Michiko, from stealing the limelight. There is a subtle message behind the fun and the brilliant descriptions of amateurs staging a performance of a well-known musical film. Bumbling Bea is a story about friendship, and why it matters more than popularity "bought" by attempting to be the best at everything.