My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“No Ordinary Excuse” is one of those light, fluffy reads that pretty fit firmly in the camp of children’s/middle grade fiction. It tells the story of 12-year old Gemma who forgets to do her assignment for the umpteenth time and her teacher isn’t likely to let her off the hook for it. So what does she do? Given her wild imagination, she decides to come up with the best (i.e. most elaborate) homework excuse ever. Which equates to someone holding her homework for ransom.
Her teacher is not impressed, giving Gemma detention anyway. Gemma decides to further the matter by getting her aunt involved in the hoax, involving a travel gnome, a fake image of said project, and treks across Australia, which is actually involved in Gemma’s actual due project. The thing blows up even bigger than Gemma realizes, and she has to do a bit of damage control with her relationships along the way.
This was ultimately a cute story and one that was quick for me to read despite some parts of the narrative that were a little sluggish to start. I think it had more to do with trying to find the voice of the character and set the stage for what Gemma was planning as to where I struggled, but once the plan came across with Gemma and her aunt, I was on board to the end. It teaches a nice moral lesson, not too heavy handed though it might be a little on the odd side for plausibility. I actually found Gemma’s imagination charming, and I figured someone would say she needed to use her imagination for better things. In the end, I found it worth the read.
Overall score: 2.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Odyssey Books.