Sydell Voeller grew up in Washington State, but has lived in Oregon for over thirty-five years. Throughout her twenty-year writing career, her published novels for teens and adults have reflected her love for the Pacific Northwest’s ocean beaches, inlets and waterways, evergreen forests, and mountains. Sydell resides in Oregon with her husband. They married in 1971 and have two grown sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and three adorable grandchildren.
When Sydell isn't writing, she enjoys camping, walking, amateur astronomy, reading, and surfing the web. In 1987 after the publication of her first novel, she was named by the Washington County Mushaw Center, Woman of the Year in Communications. Formerly a registered nurse, Sydell now teaches writing correspondence courses, sponsored by the Long Ridge Writer’s Institute.
The Dummy and Me.
Fifteen-year-old Deanna Lambert is miserable. She can't find her niche with the popular kids at school and believes she is ugly. Then too, after her mother deserted the family to pursue an acting career in New York City, Deanna's father has grown distant and embittered. Now Deanna is saddled with most all the chores at home—and she and her dad barely communicate.
Yet Deanna's one happy escape is her volunteer work at the nearby Children's Hospital. There the activities director convinces her to get back into her ventriloquism, a creative skill Deanna's grandfather had taught her years earlier.
Deanna and her puppet, Ramblin' Roy, entertain and delight the young hospital patients, but Deanna is worried. What if the kids at her school discover what she's doing? Will they think she's just “a baby” who still plays with dolls?
Deanna takes the risk, but one problem soon leads to another. Can she ever gain true acceptance at school, especially from Jason, the guy whom she has a major crush on? And most of all, can Deanna embrace her gift of ventriloquism, and in so doing, come to terms with her mother's leaving?
The Dummy and Me looks at the fears, hopes and dreams of our heroine Deanna, who struggles with the usual teenage insecurities, as well as drastic changes to her home life. This is a short and well written read, which deals sensitively with issues such as divorce, childhood illness and a young girl’s lack of self-belief. I found Ms Voeller’s style of writing to be perceptive, with an obvious understanding of the young female mind.
Deanna Lambert’s character is likeable, which is always a bonus for me as a reader. Our brief glimpse into her life is interesting. I certainly found the introduction of a ventriloquist’s dummy to be unique. On the whole, I found The Dummy and Me to be an enjoyable vehicle for the works of Ms Voeller, who has a true knack for delving into the teenage mind.
The Dummy and Me is the perfect short read for fans of the Young Adult genre.
Honey Bee Reviews says: an interesting read.
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Room 302. Six-year-old Misty Ebert. I'd know that voice anywhere. Misty had a hip
disease and was one of the kids who'd been in and out of the hospital a lot. With that had come a
lot of depression.
I rushed inside. "Misty, how are you?" Reaching down, I hugged her. The sight of her
sad blue eyes, bluer than my bouquet, made me glad I was there.
"I'm bored," she answered, dropping her gaze.
I looked down at my flowers, then shoved my hands behind my back. It was time for a
last-minute change in plans.
"Which hand?" I asked.
"That one!" She pointed to my right side and I pulled out the bouquet.
"Oh, for me? All for my very own?"
"Yes, all for you. I'll ask the nurses where I can get a vase for them. But first, tell me
why you're so bored."
"I'm tired of watching TV and working puzzles and coloring and playing video games,"
she complained. "There's nothing fun to do here anymore."
I pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. "Like me to read you a story?"
"Nah, I'm sick of stories."
Desperate, I scanned the room. An empty brown paper bag, the size I took my lunch to
school in, lay on her bedside stand. I flashed it before her eyes.
"Need this for anything?" I asked.
"No, the cleaning lady left it there. She's got lots of them."
As I glanced at her box of broken Crayolas, my thoughts raced. "Here, I'll show you
something," I said, reaching for a blue Crayola. "In just a few minutes, abra cadabra, this brown
paper bag will become someone special."
I scrawled two oversized blue eyes, then a nose, a silly-looking mouth on the flap,
topped with a mop of penciled-in hair.
"Who is it, Deanna? Who is it?"
"A happy clown, named Smiley, who loves to laugh and sing and tell silly stories."
Putting my hand inside the bag, I turned and faced my home-made dummy.
"How-do-you-do, ladies and gentleman, I'd like you to meet my friend Smiley the
Clown." My dummy dipped into an exaggerated bow. "Good day, Smiley the Clown," I continued.
The dummy stared at the ceiling and answered, "What's up? How should I know! I don't
see anything up there!"
The little girl squealed, clapping her chubby hands with delight.