Sammy Carducci’s Guide to Women is a comic novel about the trials and tribulations of dating in the sixth grade. Sammy is the shortest boy in his class, but he makes up for his small size by having a big personality filled with cocky self-confidence. He’s been watching his older brother, and now believes he has all the knowledge necessary to impress the women in his class. The only problem is, the one girl he’s really interested in, Becky Davidson, is the most physically mature girl in the entire school, and he has a lot of competition for her affections.
This book is written by Ronald Kidd, who, nowadays, publishes chapter books like Chasing George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major, as well as novels like The Year of the Bomb, and On Beale Street. Sammy Carducci was published in the middle of his career so far, back in 1991.
Reading the story felt a lot like watching a 90s sitcom like Saved By the Bell or Boy Meets World, where kids are the main focus and adults play a secondary role. A lot of the “jokes” of this story - Sammy’s height, Becky’s maturity, Becky’s parents’ reactions to Sammy, Sammy’s disagreements with his friend Gus - are common tropes found in a lot of movies, shows, and books from the same time period. Sammy isn’t quite a stereotype, but he does represent a certain type of recognizable character, whose personality is familiar to me based on how much time I spent indulging in 90s pop culture as a kid.
Kidd’s writing reminds me a lot of authors like Gordon Korman, Louis Sachar, and Rachel Vail, who use this same sense of humor to tell stories about early adolescence. Like books by Korman, Sachar, and Vail, Kidd’s story about Sammy Carducci could really appeal to boys or girls, thanks to Sammy’s engaging voice and the high stakes he sets up for himself by wanting to date Becky.
Though Sammy Carducci’s Guide to Women is out of print, a play based on the story can still be purchased from Dramatic Publishing. I can imagine a play with so many colorful characters would be a lot of fun to perform, and it would be really interesting to see what kind of contemporary spin could be put on the story to bring it up to date.
I purchased Sammy Carducci's Guide to Women from my local used book store.