I know you’ve read this kind before – the story of the girl or girls trying to be popular or at the very least fitting in. This book is the quest for popularity…in reverse. Dina is starting a new school and is used to being liked; to being popular, at least, used to being popular enough.
“This whole starting-a-new-school thing would be easier if I had a T-shirt that stated the truth, or a removable tattoo on my forehead, or something, just so peple would know: I was cool at my old school. Really, I was. Yeah, it was a private school with fifty kids in the grade. Everyone was artsy in his or her own way. And it wasn’t very cliquey. But I was cool. People liked me. Shouldn’t it be automatic that if I was someone there, I’d be someone here, too?” (pages 1-2)
After her fist day Dina finds out that it isn’t automatic and that being liked, well, it takes a lot of work. When Dina gets paired with the school queen bee Chelsea for a video project she’s sure this is her ticket into Chelsea’s group – the “in” group. But the project takes both girls to a place they never thought they’d go – up close and personal with kids they never even knew existed: the knitters, the guitar players, the t-shirt collectors, the cartoon obsessed, and the kid who is compelled to arrive at school every morning at 7:43am. Exactly. And this new place, this other place, it’s really pretty interesting. The girls take a good hard look at what cool is and are surprised at what they find. Author: Lisa Greenwald
When Danny gets caught trying to cross his name off the “Geek” list in the girls’ bathroom, he’s sent to detention. Bullies torment him mercilessly — until they discover that Danny can draw. He enjoys his new “bad boy” status, supplying tattoos and graffiti, until he’s unknowingly drawn into a theft. Turns out the bullies took a comic book from Danny’s favorite store. Can he steal it back before they get caught — and break off with the bullies before he gets in too deep?
I loved it it was amazing book similar to diary of a wimpy kid.
I totally missed this one Elliott – thanks! If you like reading about Danny and Greg Heffley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (and while you are waiting for Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6 Cabin Fever to come out…November, 2011) try one of these:
Zulaikha lives in Afghanistan with her father, her step-mother and her brothers and sisters. She is one of the oldest children so she has a lot of jobs, like going to the market for food and helping take care of the babies. She doesn’t go to school although her mother taught her a few words before she died.
Zulaikha lives in a country at war in a culture that I don’t know very much about. I really liked reading her story because I felt like I was getting a look at a real person from Afghanistan, not a stereotype or a “made for TV” person. The author of this book is an American soldier who was stationed in an Afghan village helping build a school. He based Zulaikha on a real girl he met while he lived there.
I liked how this book didn’t give me what I expected. For example, at one point Zulaikha’s Dad is talking about how the Americans are coming to build a school. He knows that the village girls have never gone to school and that the idea is a very American one. He says, ”School for boys. School for girls. School for goats. Who cares as long as they pay?” (page 16) The fact that he supports the building of the school doesn’t really tell you whether or not he thinks girls should go to school – it just tells you he needs paid to build something so his family can eat. That seems very truthful to me. In fact, Zulaikha’s Dad is one of my favorite characters in the book. That doesn’t mean everything he did was likable…it means I liked him as a character because he seemed authentic.
You will cry sometimes while you read this book. Very sad things happen to Zulaikha and the people in her family. Sometimes you will think, “No! no! Don’t do that!” or “How could a Dad let that happen? or “How could a person be so cruel?” But then you remember that you are reading about a girl that lives in the middle of a war in a different country in a culture alot different from our own. How would you know what you would think or how you would act unless you lived there too? I liked thinking about that after I was done with the book, and I think you will too.
Sometimes good things happen, things that make you feel really good about how people can persevere even in very terrible circumstances. There is one character in particular who seemed heartless; a charcter I didn’t like at all, who turned out to be sacrificing her own dreams to secretly help Zulaikha. I ended up really, really liking this character. I especially liked watching how she and Zulaikha grew together after realizing they could work together for the same goal. Sometimes when you read a book friendships can be really predictable; this one took me by surprise and I liked that.
When Mike’s Dad wants to talk to him he calls. On the phone. From his study across the hall. Mike’s Dad is a genius. He’s also the classic absent minded professor. It’s a good thing he has Mike around to take care of business – like pay the bills. Mike’s Dad can’t find his glasses when they are sitting on top of his head or his keys when they are in his pocket. When Mike’s Dad gets an opportunity to teach abroad for 6 weeks Mike isn’t that bummed that he can’t go – six months at home without supervision….sweet! Six weeks without having to make sure his Dad can find his keys…sweet!
But people look poorly on the idea of a fourteen-year-old at home alone all summer, and even though Mike takes care of himself all the time anyway, his Dad sends him to live for the summer with an Aunt and Uncle Mike’s never even met and his dad hasn’t seen YEARS. The Aunt and Uncle are old. Poppy, the Uncle, never gets out of his chair and never talks. Moo, the Aunt, drives like a mad blind woman and watches pretend movies in a car she’s decorated to look like a theater. They aren’t exactly the company Mike had in mind for his summer!
He also didn’t have in mind doing all the math worksheets his Dad left for him. When will Mike’s father ever get it that Mike doesn’t even LIKE math, let alone LOVE it. As a matter of fact, he’ll get it this very summer, the summer Mike spends with Poppy and Moo and learns that while he might not be any good at math, he IS really good at something else…something that’s good enough to get Poppy out of his chair and Moo out of her broken down car.
During his summer with Poppy and Moo Mike meets a homeless guy who has a house he just chooses not to live in, two guys who make giant stuffed toys for adults and a cute rocker chick. All of them turn out to be really good friends for Mike, but one of them, and I’ll let you guess which one, turns out to be a little bit better friend than the others! A great story about a boy with some crazy good social skills and the desire to do something really good. Author: Kathryn Erskine
If you liked reading about Mike and how he surprised the people around him, and himself, with his talents, you might like reading about some of these kids who also find out that what they are made of is some pretty good stuff…even if they are just kids.
Now, just before the first day of middle school, the girls find out the one thing that could wreck their carefully laid plan…one of them is moving! How can they conquer popularity alone in two different schools…in two different cities…in two different COUNTRIES! It is a popularity crisis of global proportion. Julie will be here and Lydia will be in London for 6 whole months.
Being uber-organized note takers the girls agree to work on their poplularity goals while apart. Julie starts school alone at Hannibal Hamlin Junior High. Her job is to study Della Dawn and the other “Bichons” – a “club that everyone wants to be in but no one ever gets invited to join.” (page 32) By studying them Julie will figure out how to become a “Bichon”.
In London, Lydia figures out who the cool people are, Victoria and Paulina, but doesn’t really like them. Instead, she decides to befriend Delilah and Nabil. Her goal is to use she and Julie’s careful popularity research to teach THEM how to be popular. THEN, when Lydia returns to America in 5 months, she and Julie will know works and can use it together at Hannibal Hamlin to become wildly popular. Sound like a plan? They think so! Author: Amy Ignatow