Cover image for Dear Mrs. Ryan, you're ruining my life
Dear Mrs. Ryan, you're ruining my life
Jones, Jennifer B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Walker & Co., 2000.
Physical Description:
122 pages ; 22 cm
In an effort to get his mother to stop writing about him in her books, fifth-grader Harvey and his best friend decide to try to make a romantic connection between her and their school principal.
Reading Level:
670 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.5 4.0 39563.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.3 7 Quiz: 27573 Guided reading level: P.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

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What do you do when your mother takes embarrassing moments from your life and includes them in books read by kids all over the country? If you're Harvey Ryan, you hatch a plan to focus your mother on something, or someone else. So Harvey decides to set his mom up with the only eligible man he knows, the school principal. But when his plan works, Harvey quickly realizes having his mother date his principal is even worse than her being a famous author. One mother can sure cause a lot of trouble in a boy's life.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. Fifth-grader Harvey Ryan's divorced mother embarrasses him every year when she comes to school to talk about writing children's books and explains that her most amusing plot details come from her son's personal experiences. In an effort to distract Mom from her work, Harvey arranges for her to meet his widowed school principal, Mr. Stevens. The two hit it off beyond Harvey's wildest dreams, resulting in even more teasing from his peers. Jones peoples her first novel with upbeat, believable characters who manage to handle their problems. Enhancing the story are several well-integrated subplots involving Harvey's father, an inattentive, unreliable bartender; Harvey's best friend and partner in crime, Seal; and Brian, Harvey's baseball rival. Some adults might quibble that the loose ends are tied up too neatly, but kids are not likely to mind, and it's refreshing to encounter some positive adult role models. Give this to fans of school stories or readers just looking for a good laugh. --Kay Weisman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The eponymous Mrs. Ryan in Jones's light-hearted debut novel is fifth-grade narrator Harvey's mother, a children's book author who shamelessly mines his experience for her plots, then announces precisely how during visits and assemblies at his school. Hoping to distract her from writing and therefore to stave off further humiliation, Harvey and his best friend, Seal (Cecilia), play Cupid between his mother and their principal, Mr. Stevens, but then Harvey must deal with his classmates' teasing and the reality of a suitor. Harvey's voice as a baseball-mad, stamp-collecting elementary student is occasionally inconsistent, at times lapsing into old-fashioned exclamations (e.g., after considering scratching the principal's car, Harvey muses, "How could I even think such a thing?" and then "Get a grip, Harvey old boy"). While the author plumbs well-worn themes of divorced parents, disappointing fathers and the discomfort of watching a parent fall in love, ultimately none of the subplots assume primary importance. The funniest moments arise when Harvey turns the tables on his scribbling mother, eyeing her every move with pen in hand and jotting down notes when she spills her coffee. However, their confrontation after his entry in a writing contest, for which she is the judge, seems belated and too neatly tied up. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-Harvey Ryan's divorced mom is not purposely ruining his life. It's just that she is a children's book author and her annual trips to school mortify him. If only she would stop revealing her inspiration for her writing (his mishaps). His best friend, Seal, suggests that his mother needs romance in her life, to take her mind off of her son. The children select their principal as a romantic target, but when their plan actually works, Harvey finds himself trying to sabotage the budding relationship. Subplots involving his efforts to secure his unreliable father (a former minor-league baseball player) as his baseball team's coach and confrontations with his archenemy, Bart, keep the pace moving. This lighthearted debut novel will engage and amuse reluctant readers as well as any child who sympathizes with Harvey's angst at being embarrassed by his mother. The adult characters are genuinely nice and it is a pleasure to read about an intelligent and caring principal. Only Harvey's father is a bit one-dimensional; but even he shapes up as the story's threads come together. Other titles for children having trouble accepting potential stepfathers are Anne Fine's My War with Goggle-Eyes (Joy Street, 1989; o.p.) and Mary Jane Auch's Mom Is Dating Weird Wayne (Holiday, 1988; o.p.).-Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.