It says something about the quality of this series that even the relatively unsuccessful ones are quite good. In this book, which I thought overlapped a little too much with Max Se Trouve Nul
, Lili is going to have a French test and starts freaking out. She knows she has to concentrate, but she just can't do it! And it doesn't get better when her parents offer to help her revise. She snaps at them that they treat her like a machine for producing grades. Why do they have to live through her all the time? As usual, I'm struck by the psychological sophistication. This, from a girl who can't be more than eight years old? It's hard to believe, but the author says she talks to literally tens of thousands of kids and just writes down what they tell her. Interesting.
Lili's on the verge of a minor nervous breakdown, but finally she has a chat with the kind librarian. (Montambo: note that primary school librarians are portrayed as being clearly the nicest people in the world). The librarian gives her some good advice about how to revise for tests, and adds that Lili's teacher really isn't picking on her. She's just sad because her dog has died. Lili loves dogs, and her heart goes out to the poor teacher. She writes her a long letter, reproduced in the text, saying how sorry she is for her loss. The letter is full of spelling mistakes - all scrupulously listed in a footnote: the author doesn't want the reader to learn incorrect spelling! - but teacher loves it anyway. She gives Lili a big hug, and they both feel better.
So, you're wondering... does Lili now score a good result on her test? Of course not! This is real life. She gets 8/20, but the important thing is that she's not broken up about it. It's not nearly as bad as the 3/20 she thought she'd get, and she's learned how to study effectively. She's already planning to do better next time.
Dominique de Saint Mars, do you ever feel a little crushed by the responsibility? It can't always be easy to think that you're a whole country's wise and understanding grandmother.