6th-grader Jessie Lou is deeply, madly, passionately in love with Conrad Parker Smith. Too bad she's a tomboy with only one on-again, off-again friend, and hair so short you can't spit on it. Read more...
6th-grader Jessie Lou is deeply, madly, passionately in love with Conrad Parker Smith. Too bad she's a tomboy with only one on-again, off-again friend, and hair so short you can't spit on it. Too bad he's the most popular boy in their small-town school.
But then Conrad hurts his leg and suddenly can't keep up with his old pursuits anymore. Jessie Lou and Conrad start spending a lot more time together, but she can't help wonder -- is she just a substitute friend? And will Conrad forget her when his leg brace comes off and he's king of the school once again?
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 154.
- Review Date: 2008-02-18
- Reviewer: Staff
This feel-good tale about the social pecking order of tweens in rural Virginia has likable characters and a positive message, but its persistent down-home twanginess gets downright annoying at times. Jessie Lou Ferguson, a poem-writing tomboy who chops off hunks of her hair when she's piqued, secretly adores Conrad Parker Smith, the “it” boy of Cabanash County Elementary. Conrad's popularity unconvincingly plummets when he injures his leg, throwing Jessie and Conrad together. A lackluster mystery provides reason for Jessie and Conrad, plus an amusing sidekick named Quentin, to meet each day for a new adventure. Though the pervasive theme of popularity and the idea that “keeping on the right side of the crowd can be tricky and unpredictable” may resonate with readers familiar with the “in crowd,” Stone's (All the Blue Moons at the Wallace Hotel) characters don't seem authentic. Her sixth-grade girls are old enough to covet the attention of boys, yet still wear fairy wings to school before a party. And Jessie Lou's small-town Southernness (“I hauled off with a nice big old pair of scissors and cut my hair practically down to the bone.... so short, you couldn't spit on it”) comes close to cliché. Add a sluggish pace and readers may find that, like the muddy banks of the Cabanash River, this book is hard to plow through. Ages 9-12. (Mar.)