Scrapbook lovers, rejoice! In this new novel by popular children's author Paula Danziger, the hobby of scrapbooking comes into its own. In fact, in a delightful touch, Danziger has even included her own colorful scrapbook art.

The heroine of United Tates of America is Sarah Kate Tate, better known as Skate Tate. Skate lives with her limelight-loving little sister and parents in New Jersey, where she has just entered middle school, Biddle Middle to be precise. And Skate is not at all sure she likes the changes this move brings. From the very first day Skate's cousin and best friend, Susie, is swept away by a new group of friends and seems to lose interest in Skate. And then there is the D.D.

T., the Donald Duck Trio, who go out of their way to quack annoyingly at Skate on the bus each morning. On the bright side, Skate takes a chance and lands the position of co-art director on the student newspaper, along with the talented (and nice-looking) Garth Garrison. At the center of Skate's life, though, has always been her great uncle Mort, whose nickname is GUM. In his mid-50s, GUM has made enough money in the computer field to spend most of his time traveling the world, and he brings back not just mementos from other places, but words of wisdom. He encourages Skate to embrace change and challenge: The future is not to be feared but to be explored and celebrated . . . I really believe that we should be excited by what's just around the corner. GUM's words become especially meaningful when, a short while later, he dies of a heart condition. In his will, he leaves Skate's family some money and a request: use the funds to travel and explore the places he wishes he could have shown them himself. Adjusting to GUM's death is hard for Skate, but she gets up enough courage to propose a travel column for her school paper based on the trips she and her family will take. This warm and accessible story closes with the family's trip to Plymouth, Massachusetts, leaving the door open for more Tate family trips, just around the corner.

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