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.
From Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
Lydia and Julie, BFFs since birth, are now preparing to enter junior high, and they're on a mission to become popular. First, however, they have to determine exactly how popularity is achieved, so they decide to approach the matter as any good scientist would: observe those creatures already at the height of popularity and apply said observations to themselves, in the hopes of cracking into that mysterious world of junior-high stardom. The two record their observations and the often spectacularly unsuccessful outcomes of their various social experiments in a scrapbook-like journal, complete with notes passed at school, lists of projected popularity goals, and credibly goofy and kidlike drawings. The story here is fairly familiar: the girls fail miserably at their first attempts at the A-list (Lydia's hair falls out after a botched dye job, among other disasters) but eventually find acceptance in the upper echelon, only to learn the valuable lesson that it's the people you're most comfortable around who make the best friends. The diary format, however, adds an extra dimension of funny, and as in Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid series about Greg Heffley, it allows Julie and Lydia to come alive through their witty dialogue, their perceptive commentary, and even their characteristic handwriting. Secondary characters shine as well, particularly Julie's embarrassing but ultimately charming two dads, along with Lydia's goth-punk sister, a font of random quips and junior high wisdom. The popular kids end up being far from perfect and each has issues of her own to contend with, making the actual friendships that form among the girls all the more endearing. Those waiting for the next installment of Greg Heffley's adventures will be well served by this amusing experiment in sixth-grade celebrity. KQG
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 56.
- Review Date: 2010-03-08
- Reviewer: Staff
This one's for the Wimpy Girls. Riffing on and amplifying the increasingly common diary-style format, Ignatow uses “handwritten” notes and copious full-color cartoons to put a fresh spin on that quintessential scholastic goal: to be popular. Fifth-graders Lydia and Julie record observations about the habits of popular girls in a secret notebook and set out to test them, leading to a series of entertaining misadventures. Lydia ends up with a bald patch trying to give herself a blonde streak, and the girls' convoluted scheme to get cellphones results in a pair of horribly embarrassing models. Of course, the girls learn that popularity has a price, and even their own lifelong friendship becomes strained. The book's course may be predictable, but Ignatow taps into the girls' preteen concerns and earnest, passionate personalities via the creative format, with its dueling narratives and illustrations that feel ripped from a spiral notebook (a fantasy sequence that has Lydia starring in the school play culminates in the arrival of a pink unicorn that “barf[s] up pirate treasure!!”). Readers will quickly devour this hilarious, heartfelt debut. Ages 9–13. (Apr.)