Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ages 11+

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are best friends with one goal: to crack the code of popularity. Through careful observation of the fifth-grade class and brave experiments throughout the year, they plan to start junior high at the top of the social order. But somehow Lydia and Julie's bold tests don't translate into instant popularity. And even worse, as the school year passes they seem to be drifting farther and farther from their goal....and each other.
Amy Ignatow's hilarious debut novel introduces the intrepid fifth-graders Julie and Lydia, whose quest to understand popularity may not succeed in the ways they want but will succeed in keeping readers in stitches.

I really enjoyed this book. It is done in a diary style, handwritten with lots of pictures. This format is really popular right now, mainly because of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. (Which I absolutely loved). This will appeal to all those middle grade girls, who like Wimpy Kid but also want a story more girl oriented. I thought this book explored a lot of topics that I can remember were really important to me right before entering middle school. I remember I wanted to make more friends and "be cool", whatever that is. For me, more friends ended up translating into more drama, which is exactly what happens to the two main characters in this book. So yes, although I am now 27 years old, I found a lot to relate to in this story.

One thing I really liked about this book was that as the quest to become popular begins to tear apart their friendship, they learn that popularity isn't all that it's cracked up to be. I thought that this book had a really sweet ending. Another thing that I loved about this book was that neither of the characters have a traditional nuclear family structure at home, but they both still have a really good home life. I don't think you see that as often in young readers books as you see the kid having trouble with a step-parent or their parents' divorce. I think there is a need for both kinds of books.

The only thing that I thought maybe wasn't well planned about this book was that the author chose to have the girls be in fifth grade. As I was reading the book, I really felt what the story was about and what the characters cared about were more sixth grade level. Maybe I'm just thinking back to my own experience of those ages, because I never cared about popularity or social things until at least sixth grade, and it was the end of sixth grade. Well, I guess the kids grow up faster these days.

My overall verdict on this book is it's perfect for a girl who is starting middle school.

Rating: Check it out from the library or buy it.

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