Petra James (text) and Anna Zobel (illustration), The Most Ungrateful Girl in the World, Puffin Books, September 2019, 288 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780143793670
Izzy Winkle is the Most Grateful Girl in the World. With a grandmother like Daphne Du Bois, Etiquette Queen of the Southern Hemisphere, it’s easy to understand why. But when a flyer drifts in through Izzy’s bedroom window advertising the Most Ungrateful Girl in the World competition, Izzy is inspired to do something completely out of character. She convinces herself that it’s an easy slide from Grateful to Ungrateful. And with the help of her genius friend Kate and dubious mentor- Horace Unthank, Professor of Appalling Behaviour – Izzy sets about practicing her ungrateful skills. But then she meets Molly Bloom and discovers that the competition is a ruse, a plot to spread ungratefulness around the world. The Department of Manners, who are on a mission to find out who’s behind the competition and stop the world from being overrun by ungratefulness, enlists Izzy’s help as an undercover agent. Izzy couldn’t be happier as exploring her ungrateful side and being an undercover agent are at the top of her bucket list. Soon, there are more twists and turns than a rollercoaster as Izzy gets closer to discovering the shocking truth of who is behind the devious plot.
The Most Ungrateful Girl in the World is a fun, romping middle-grade novel full of humour and intrigue. Izzy explores what it is to be less than always perfectly behaved and how this affects those around her and what it is to be at the other end of the scale – completely ungrateful. Izzy’s friendship with Kate is also tested as she finds out that she doesn’t have to always be in Kate’s shadow.
This is a light but engaging story about testing boundaries and finding out who we are. The quirky illustrations by Anna Zobel and the callouts are a great compliment to the text. This book is recommended for ages 9 to 11 and would suit reluctant and sensitive readers in that age range.
Reviewed by Pamela Ueckerman