4th grader Allie is excited when she finds out there is a new girl in her class. The new girl’s name is Cheyenne and she’s from Canada – which makes her sound kind of exotic and interesting. She’s interesting all right. And bossy. And mean. Cheyenne immediately collects a group of friends – her clique – and labels anyone she hasn’t chosen “immature”. Then she starts a kissing game at recess and begins insisting that the boys and girls pair up and start “going with” each other. Allie wants to know…what does “going with” even mean? Dealing with Cheyenne, and having the courage to stand up to her, helps Allie add another rule to her list of school survival tips: “Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good.” Anybody who has ever had to deal with a controlling, bossy mean girl will cheer outloud for Allie and her friends.
Lina is having a really tough year since her Mom died. Lina’s best friend is having a tough year too since her Dad up and left. The girls cope by keeping busy playing volleyball, doing homework and talking about cute boys. Plus, they have each other. It always helps to have a friend that understands.
Lina’s Dad and Vanessa’s Mom aren’t doing so good. Lina’s Dad is an English Professor and spends his time with his nose buried in a book – so much time that he forgets about Lina sometimes. Vanessa’s mom spends her time obsessively making Cascarones – hollow eggs filled with confetti. She makes so many that the eggs are piling up all over Vanessa’s house. The irony is Cascarones are “good luck eggs.” You crack one over somebody’s head to give them good luck. Eggs need cracked over everyone in these two families.
The best part about this book is the adults. Lina’s Dad and Vanessa’s mom are very real characters. They aren’t stereotype parents. You can feel their pain and you can understand the reasons they are acting so strangely. I liked watching these two families work through tough times. The characters in Confetti Girl show you how important family and friends are during hard times and how important it is to lean on them instead of pushing them away. Sometimes, it’s important to let people help you.
Things at Harper’s house are different since her Daddy drove away. There had been fighting and he had been drinking too much and this time, after he drove away, he never came back home again. It’s quieter now. There’s no shouting. But Harper’s mom is having a hard time paying the bills and paying the rent. One day, Harper returns from school and sees that all of their belongings are sitting in their front yard. The landlord has kicked the family out. With nothing but the necessities that will fit in their car the family heads to a motel for shelter and to figure out what to do next. Harper’s dreams of finally having her poetry noticed at her school’s annual poetry contest are dashed when the “what to do next” means Harper babysitting her little brother instead of going to school.
Spending her days at the motel with Hem, her little brother, Harper slowly begins to meet the other people that are also living in the motel or in a tent city in the woods behind the motel. What do they have in common? Homelessness. This ragtag group, united as they face common enemies (poverty, unemployment, illness, homelessness) turns out to be the rock Harper and her family have been looking for. You can make a home…wherever your friends and family are, even if that home is in a motel, a shelter or a tent.
Harper is smart and self-reliant. She has a good head on her shoulders. She thinks about her family’s problems a lot, but not in a way that is whiney or all doom and gloom. She thinks about the problems so that she can problem solve. She comes up with ideas and strategies to make their situation better. This makes her a great team player within her family. Author: Ann Haywood Leal
“Emma-Jean Lazarus knew very well that the seventh-grade boys at William Gladstone Middle School behaved like animals at times. They threw fruit in the cafeteria and stampeded through the hallways. They chased balls on the blacktop and laughed in a howling manner when Mr. Petrowsky discussed a certain part of the digestive system in science.”
But Emma-Jean doesn’t really have to care about the boys and their mysterious behaviors, she’s got Colleen, Valerie, Kaitlin and Michelle. But then the Spring Fling comes along – a girls ask boys dance at school. The girls immediately decide to have a sleepover instead since the gross boys are hardly worth their time. But that plan falls apart when Valerie, Kaitlin and Michelle all ask a boy to the dance.
Emma-Jean is again caught in the middle of seventh grade drama when Colleen begins receiving notes from a secret admirer and enlists Emma-Jean to find out who it is. Author: Lauren Tarshis
Jamie’s teacher assigns keeping a diary for three weeks, something Jamie is all over…until she finds out the diary entries will be read by EVERYONE. Even though the author’s name will be anonymous, this clearly violates the Sacred Secrecy of Dairies.
And how can Jamie violate that? She won’t, so she writes a a fake diary to turn in at school, and lucky for us, keeps her real diary too. That’s how we find out Jamie has a new attachment to her nemsis Angeline. Jamie’s dog Stinker has gone and had puppies with Angeline’s dog Stickybuns. According to Jamies, this makes she and Angeline not related exactly, but dog-in-laws. “In-laws are like a side order that you didn’t ask for that comes with the food you DID order.”