Monday, December 3, 2012

Pretty Crooked

Pretty Crooked
Elisa Ludwig
ISBN: 978-0062066060
Katherine Tegan, 2012

Plot Summary: Fifteen-year-old Willa has constantly been on the move with her free-spirited artist mother. When her mom sells some paintings for a lot of money, they decide to finally settle down in Paradise Valley, Arizona in a fancy house and Willa finds herself enrolled in the exclusive K-12 private academy called Valley Prep. On her first day she makes an impression when she literally gets run over on her bike by a girl in a fancy new sports car. Willa is introduced to Cherise and her friends Nikki and Kellie, also known to others as the Glitterati, the popular of the popular girls. Soon she’s settling into her new life of designer duds and daily shopping sprees costing hundreds of dollars. She’s living the good life for once. Unfortunately, when she realizes that Nikki and Kellie are the voices behind the Buzz—a blog that trashes the less fortunate of students, including three really nice scholarship girls—Willa gets angry. Knowing what it’s like to be poor, Willa convinces her friend, Tre, a boy with a bad reputation and past, to teach her the art of pick pocketing. She plans on doing a whole Robin Hood-esque crime spree—stealing from the rich to give to the poor. However, soon Willa’s crimes catch up to her and she’s forced to pay the price except she’s got those for her and those against her and when she finds her house broken into and ransacked, she figures it is the work of the Glitterati and declares war with them.

Critical Evaluation: There is no wondering that this is the first in a trilogy (which might make some readers sad when they, like me, think it is a stand alone novel) with its cliffhanger ending. It really takes a lot of time to get the story going (more than 100 pages before she starts her plan) and leaves a lot of unanswered questions that will hopefully be answered in future volumes. A lot of time is spent getting to Willa’s plan—many, many shopping sprees described, and so on. Hopefully this is all just a set up for a exciting second volume. Willa is a very likeable character. She’s always been poor and is thrust into the weird world of spoiled brats. She doesn’t really change when she comes into money which is nice and only spends money because her mom tells her she can. Willa’s intentions are good as she plans to rob from the rich to give to the poor. It’s nice to see a family that is pretty poor in a YA book as most always seem to be well off and never concerned about money problems. Here is Willa a character that has before lived in her car and doesn’t have that many possessions because it’s easier to move when she doesn’t have much to pack. I think many readers will be able to side with Willa and understand her motivation to help the poorer girls and get back at the rich brats.

Reader's Annotation: Steal from the rich and give to the poor? Sound familiar? It’s Robin Hood for a modern generation. Willa grew up poor and when her artist mother sells some paintings and they move up in life, Willa hates how snobby rich girls treat the poor scholarship students of her new private academy. So what’s she do? Learn some mad pick pocketing skills to anonymously give to the poor girls!

Author Information: Ludwig’s debut young adult novel Pretty Crooked (Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins) was released in March 2012. Even though she had to extensively research pickpocketing techniques, she is a law-abiding citizen. Ludwig lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Jesse. She is a proud member of The Apocalypsies, a group of children's book authors debuting in 2012. Her sequel, Pretty Sly, is being released in 2013 (Elisa, n.d.).

Genre: Action, Humor

Curriculum Ties:  N/A

Booktalking Ideas:  Read a scene of Willa learning thieving skills.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  13+

Challenge Issues: N/A

Challenge Defense:  N/A

Reason for Inclusion:  A humorous action book for girls (that guys would like if they get past the girly cover) that is different from a lot of what is out there in YA books today.


Elisa Ludwig. (n.d.). Goodreads author profile. Retrieved from

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