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Sue Limb (1946-) - Sidelights

girl charming fifteen jess

Sue Limb is a British author who specializes in comedy. She is perhaps best known for her "Dulcie Domum" column which appeared in the London Guardian from 1990 to 2001. Limb has worked as a writer and broadcaster for BBC Radio, has written for British television, and has published several comedic novels for adults. She has also penned a number of children's books, including Come Back, Grandma, as well as young adult novels, including Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane and Girl, (Nearly) Sixteen, Absolute Torture.

Limb began writing for newspapers and magazines in the 1980s. With the publication of Trees Rule OK! and Meet the Greens in 1988, she turned to children's books. Come Back, Grandma, a 1993 story that was shortlisted for the Smarties Prize, focuses on the special relationship between a young girl and her grandmother. When her grandma dies, Bessie feels the loss deeply. When she grows up and has a daughter, she sees her grandmother's spirit in her own child. Booklist critic Hazel Rochman praised the work, stating, "The grief is heartfelt, and so is the quiet sense of renewal."

Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane appeared in 2004. The work follows the comical exploits of Jess Jordan, a feisty teen who finds herself in a host of embarrassing situations, mostly of her own making. Boy-crazy Jess, who is all too aware of her flat chest and huge ears, envies the life of her best friend, the beautiful and popular Flora Barclay. Jess will go to seemingly any length to find romance; in one instance, she tries to enhance her cleavage by placing baggies filled with minestrone soup in her bra, with disastrous results. Fortunately, Jess's childhood companion, the sweet but awkward Fred Jones, comes to the rescue. "Jess emerges as 'everyteen,'" noted a critic in Publishers Weekly, "jealous of her best friend's virtues, critical of her own shortcomings, and seeking goals that often turn out not to be what she wanted." France Bradburn, reviewing Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane in Booklist, stated, "this is a charming, easy read that handles issues of body image, popularity, and adolescent insecurity with humor."

Jess and friends return in Girl, (Nearly) Sixteen, Absolute Torture. As summer approaches, Jess learns that her parents have planned a two-week road trip to Cornwall. The timing could not be any worse; instead of spending her time wooing Fred, Jess will be tagging along with her mother, visiting the grave sites of long-dead British writers. Meanwhile, Fred will be subject to the advances of Flora, who admits to having her own crush on Jess's sweetheart.

In her profile on the Random House Web site, Limb commented, "I wanted to write for teenagers because I'd been working with them and knew about their fears, their worries and their concerns." She continued, "It's a challenge to make sophisticated ideas and phrases accessible to young people. I hate the idea of writing down to them. They are so clever."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, January 15, 1994, Hazel Rochman, review of Come Back, Grandma, p. 937; September 15, 2004, Frances Bradburn, review of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane, p. 234.

Bookseller, June 6, 2003, review of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane, p. 30.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane, p. 689.

Kliatt, July, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane, pp. 9-10.

Publishers Weekly, August 16, 2004, review of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane, p. 64.

School Library Journal, September, 2004, Amy Patrick, review of Girl, Fifteen, Charming but Insane, p. 211.

ONLINE

Bloomsbury Web site, http://www.bloomsbury.com/ (February 1, 2005), "Sue Limb."

Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (February 1, 2005), "Sue Limb."

Sue Limb Web site, http://www.suelimb.com/ (February 1, 2005).*

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