The Kissing Game by Jean Ure

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The Kissing Game by Jean Ure

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Rude but funny, this is a good read for fans of contemporary fiction for tweens and younger teens. Parents may want to check it out first though!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 160 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007519514

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(I should probably mention that this was previously released as The Secret Life of Sally Tomato.)

Salvatore d'Amato - sometimes nicknamed Sally Tomato - is twelve years old and has never been kissed. He's determined to change that before his next birthday. But will Lucy, the object of his affections, ever return them? He has a secret weapon - his poetry. Is it going to win her heart, or just disgust her? And will Harmony Hynde, the girl in his class who works as a library assistant, stop bothering him?

This is, as always from Jean Ure, a fun read with a narrator who's likeable, if somewhat rather more interested in sex that I'd have expected from her! Sal says at one point I have become a sex fiend! My mind is like a sewer. I cannot stop thinking about boobs and bras and cup sizes, and this is a fairly good summary of the book in general. Some parents will no doubt be horrified, but it's all done in a humorous style and will no doubt appeal to the target audience. It's not just rude stuff, of course - we get to see Sal's pursuit of Lucy and Harmony's pursuit of Sal, as well as Sal's problems with his bossy older sister.

Perhaps the funniest thing about the book, though, is Sal's poetry, or Disgusting Ditties (in tribute to Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes. They're definitely disgusting, covering a variety of bodily functions as well as the things that Sal would like to do to Lucy. However they're also hilarious and I could see them being huge hits in the playground - there are definitely some I can imagine older primary school children chanting to each other!

I don't think it's as good as Ure's best books (but bear in mind her best books are absolutely amazing); it's predictable even compared to others for this age range and some of the characters are thinly drawn in places. However it's a fun, light read, and has moments of brilliance - in particular when Sal complains about Harmony stalking him without realising he's doing the same thing to Lucy.

Definitely worth a read for all fans of funny contemporary fiction for younger teens.

You could spend a few months reading nothing but Jean Ure, she's so prolific! A couple of our favourites for the age range are Lemonade Sky and Ice Lolly. If you're looking for more on first love, Perfect Girl by Mary Hogan is very good. We also loved Just Peachy by Jean Ure.

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