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United Tates of America
By Paula Danziger

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United Tates of America

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United Tates of America
By Paula Danziger
Full Cast Audio, (2002)
An Unabridged Audio Recording on Two Cassettes or Three CDs
Read by a full cast, staring Carmen Viviano-Crafts as Skate Tate
ISBN: 0-9717540-4-7

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 9, 2002

Sarah Kate "Skate" Tate's life is in flux. Her orderly life is disrupted when she is enrolled in Biddle Middle School as a lowly sixth grader. Not only does Skate have to learn how to navigate in this strange new world, but she also has to deal with the fact that Susie, her best friend and cousin, is changing too. A fact that is only too obvious when Susie dyes her hair blue! In this witty foray into family fiction, we follow Skate as she embarks upon her new adventure. We laugh and cry with her, and hold our breath as she waits to learn if she has made it onto the staff of the school paper.

Skate is a 'regular' kid. In general, she likes her life. She has good people skills, a loving family, and her fair share of passions, one of which is scrapbooking. She is even a member of the "Happy Scrappys," a scrapbook making club to which her cousin Susie also belongs, but who soon loses interest as new venues open up to her. To make matters worse for Skate, her life is further complicated when her great-uncle Mort, a.k.a. GUM, dies. How Skate and her family deals with this unexpected tragedy is the most compelling aspect of this story.

Skate is both the primary subject and the narrator of United Tates of America. Her primacy allows the listener to really get a feel for what it is like to be sixth-grader, and how the events that occur serve to shape her life and her personality. While the story is targeted toward middle school age children, it will also be of interest to adults. Both as a decent story, but also as a means of remembering just what it was like when they were in middle school. Thereby allowing them to empathize with the kids in their life currently undergoing the transition between elementary and high school!

United Tates of America was written by Paula Danziger, and the Full Cast Audio edition of this book includes an afterward by the author. This production of United Tates of America is read by a full cast featuring Carmen Viviano-Crafts as Skate, Taylor Gray as Susie, Gerard Moses as GUM, and Nick Landers as Garth Garrison, one of the new friends that Skate makes in Middle School. Other cast members include, Daniel Bostick, Emily Holgate, Paula Danziger, Karam Anthony, Tim Quartier, Andrew Pollock, Quanita Williams, Nicholas Davoli, Joni Gray, Bruce Coville, and Mimi Mead. Combined, their reading of this intriguing story is dynamic, and it will delight audiences of all ages.

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