Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Rid of Margarine by Betty Ren Wright

This book was published under two titles: first as Getting Rid of Marjorie, then as Getting Rid of Katherine. With that in mind, I'm calling it Getting Rid of Margarine. Next time, person who decided to change the book's name, think a little more carefully. I actually own two copies of this book, one under each title so one of them'll be a giveaway. I'd hoped that there'd be a few "Marjories" in "Katherine" but sadly, it was not to be. On to the post; it'll be a short one tonight.

Getting Rid of Margarine begins at the end of the school year. The main character, Emily, is pretty much looking forward to a not terribly exciting summer of hanging out with her grandfather. Meanwhile, Emily's best friend Sally will be spending the summer writing a book. Emily's just a little jealous of Sally who's pretty, talented, and all that good stuff Emily isn't. It's only interesting because Sally knows it. Plus, she thinks pretty highly of herself and her talents--she thinks Emily with the boring summer ahead of her wishes she could write a book too.

Turns out, Em's summer isn't gonna be so boring after all--Gramps (it's Grandpa really) has been away and while he was away he, er, um, uh, got married. I don't think Emily realized old people could do that.

So, the new wife's name is Margarine, she's like buttah, a city person (Em and fam live in the country), and afraid of nature. Emily's real but dead grandmother is in the process of being canonized and no one, but NO ONE should even think about taking her place. With the support of the dairy-filled state of Wisconsin in which she lives, Emily decides to do what the butter union deemed impossible: get rid of Margarine.

Possible Margarine removal methods include:
1. Scaring her with a snake
2. Convincing her there's an intruder at night
3. Carefully inspecting all toast, baked potatoes, and homemade baked goods and promptly discarding, no, burning any items that could conceivably contain or be covered with Margarine.

Yes, Emily carries out her plans with the snake and the fake intruder, unfortunately she likes cookies too much to bother with number three. Although Margarine is scared out of her mind by items one and two, she doesn't leave.

So, it turns out to be a disappointing summer all around. Sally's book sucks (remember Sally?), Margarine buys cookies at the store instead of baking them herself, and Emily totally fails at her mission. No surprises, really.

Because all books must end with a Valuable Lesson, Emily realizes that maybe Margarine isn't so bad, it's important to watch your cholesterol, and even if your house was broken into while you were at home and a young child, there's no need to be afraid that someone will ever try to break into your house again. Oh, and if you play the piano and have a step-granddaughter who doesn't, lessons might be a good way to bond with her. Which is how Emily eventually decides to spend her summer.

There it is, short and sweet. Now go have a cookie.


  1. "Emily decides to do what the butter union deemed impossible: get rid of Margarine." made me laugh out loud.

    Also, this book sounds pretty adorable. And I love books with characters (even side characters) who are refreshingly non-insecure like Sally. The stand-out example for me is Jacob Have I Loved, even though Caroline's lack of adolescent self-hatred comes off as a little annoying from the narrator's perspective.

  2. Wow, I didn't realize there was a Betty Ren Wright book I hadn't read!

    TKOG - I'm with you on Jacob Have I Loved!

  3. TKOG, I always hated Caroline, but maybe I wouldn't if I went back and re-read it. Growing up I always related more to the insecuries but I'm starting to think maybe I don't have to...

    Did the book end with chuckles as Emily and Margarine and realized they had stuff in common? I feel like that's how every book where a young character is upset at a loved one getting married ends. I'm sort of thinking of Samantha and Uncle Gard and Cornelia from the Samantha books...

    Also really loved the butter union line.

  4. Thanks guys!

    This book is pretty cute though it's no Dollhouse Murders (someone's blog post on that totally inspired me to do this post, thanks Nikki).

    I think I need to reread Jacob Have I loved. Good thing it's on the to-be-blogged list.

    And yes, Emily and Margarine have some stuff in common. Go figure.