June 29, 2015

Random Acts

by Valerie Sherrard
Puffin/Penguin Canada
264 pp.
Ages 8-12
March, 2015

Doing random acts of kindness sounds like a noble endeavour, doesn't it? But, as we know, the best of intentions can often lead us astray, and for  Zoey, Jenna and Bean in Random Acts that’s just what happens, to hilarious results.

Of course, the reason things start to go awry is because popular Destiny Desotto decides to start a club called "Lend a Hand" but doesn’t invite Zoey and Jenna’s friend Bean because he “isn’t someone wh\e’d want in the group even if he did want in” (pg. 11) So they choose to start their own secret group called "The Random Acts".  But then hottie Dennis Fuller invites Zoey to join "Lend a Hand" and she’s convinced she can do it without the two clubs knowing about her involvement with the other.  Ultimately it’s all in aid of doing good deeds, so that’s OK, right? Not for Zoey, though.

She can’t help out her neighbours, the Kimuras, with their newspaper or their leaves without it escalating to a threat of charges being laid against her!  And Jenna’s good deed of donating old magazines to the student lounge has Zoey scrambling when a quiz she did as Destiny puts Destiny on the war path.  Even Jenna's cookies-for-the-teachers'-lounge good deed goes amok, resulting in detentions and the hospitalization of a teacher! And don’t even get me started on all the lying Zoey feels she has to do to cover her mistakes and to dampen the amorous intentions of Glenda, a client, to Zoey's dad, a psychologist.

In her efforts to contrive random acts of kindness–yes, that is an oxymoron–Zoey ends up being a liar, a stalker, a vandal, an eavesdropper, a gossip and a thief!  Some people just don’t know when you’re being kind. By making the kids’ random acts of kindness random, i.e., twisted, in both the funny sense and in the completely unpredictable way, Valerie Sherrard ensures hilarity without the malevolence that can come with manipulation.  Well played.  I always knew keeping secrets and misusing power–even if purportedly for good–were never good ideas. But they are funny ones, at least they are in Random Acts

1 comment:

  1. I just read this one too and very much enjoyed it!