Chloris and the Creeps: Chloris #1



Book: Chloris and the Creeps: Chloris #1

Author: Kin Platt

Publisher: Laurel Leaf Books, republished in 1978

ISBN-13: 978-0801958250 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0801958253 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0440914150  Paperback

ISBN-10: 0440914159 Paperback

Language level: 2

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Ages 12 and up

Rating: ** 2 stars (POOR)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Platt, Kin.  Chloris and the Creeps: Chloris #1 (published in 1973 by Chilton Book Company, Radnor, PA; republished in 1978 by Laurel Leaf Library, an imprint of Dell Publishing Co. Inc., 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City, NY  10017).  Eleven year old Chloris Carpenter lives with her mother, who works at Bontel’s Department Store selling cosmetics, and eight year old sister Jenny, who narrates the story, in sunny Southern California.   Their father, Lawrence or Larry, divorced their mother several years before and had subsequent relationships with a number of women, such as Sandra, Lila, and Jackie.  He eventually married his secretary Cindy, got her pregnant, then left her for a new girl before the baby was born, and finally committed suicide.  The girls’ mom has also had quite a few boyfriends, like Mr. Lunn, Mr. Hart, Mr. Swanson, Mr. Sherry, and Mr. Shepherd who was technically still married to his wife at the time.  However, Chloris is fanatically devoted to the idealized memory of her dead father and considers all the men who date her mother as nothing but a bunch of creeps.

Then, Chloris and Jenny’s mother marries one of the creeps, a Mexican artist named Fidel Mancha.  What kind of step-father will he be?  How do the girls react to him?  And what will happen to them?   This book is probably intended as a true to life, realistic portrayal of a child’s anger at her father’s suicide and mother’s remarriage which results in her facing a less-than-ideal family situation.  I assume that we are supposed to feel sorry for Chloris because of all the baggage that she has to deal with.  However, this is hard to do as the girl mouths off, punches her sister, pounds the rug, yells, throws puzzle pieces across the room, slams doors, calls people dumbbell, and engages in other rude behavior.  It is even implied that Chloris may have set fire to her step-father’s studio, a possibility which is never really resolved.  Several reader reviewers referred to the “bratty younger sister,” but Chloris is truly the brat, the real “creep.”  Some people also noted that the story is not politically correct because the “mean” mother slaps Chloris, but while I would never condone genuine child abuse, Chloris is exactly the kind of child that a parent would naturally want to slap into the middle of next week.

However, in the last two or three chapters, all the difficulties suddenly seem to get solved in a short period of time and everything looks as if it is going to come out hunky-dory, without a whole lot of explanation.  While the plot might mirror some children’s circumstances, it provides a horrible picture of the family and would have almost no relevance or benefit to youngsters being raised in godly homes.  Nearly every adult in it is divorced, some happily and others unhappily.  As to language, a few common euphemisms (such as darn and “gy” which is explained as being used like gee, gosh, and golly) are used.  There are references to striking a blow for women’s lib, smoking pipes, and drinking a Bloody Mary and a glass of wine.  Chloris and the Creeps might illustrate the heartache of broken homes, the problems of blended families, and the pain of losing a parent, but I agree with the reviewer who said, “This book is a real downer.”   Apparently, there are at least two other books in the Chloris series, Chloris and the Weirdos and Chloris and the Freaks.  Count me out!

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