What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book in the Candy Apple series has at least a little more substance than the title implies. Geared for tweens, the plot focuses on social issues that are prevalent to this age range: fitting in, feeling awkward, first romantic attractions, relationships with parents, and balancing school and social pressures. It's an easy read, in fact probably manageable for most 8- and 9-year-olds. However, parents need to know that girls like boys and wear makeup, characters play truth or dare at a party and slow dance together, and the main character describes first romantic encounters. They also have their own credit cards and spend exorbitant amounts of money on clothes. There is no racial or economic diversity among the characters.
What's the story?
Shy, small Sophie and loud, wild Kylie try out for cheerleading. Sophie makes it while Kylie is designated team mascot, the mule. Their relationship is tested further when Sophie becomes part of the cheerleading popular clique. She tries to include Kylie but is frustrated and embarrassed by her friend's antics to get attention. The cheerleaders encourage Sophie to ditch Kylie -- until a rumor spreads that Sophie likes a popular, very-spoken-for football player.
Sophie actually likes Kylie's neighbor, who also believes that Sophie has changed. Sophie has some soul-searching and explaining to do to get back her friends.
Is it any good?
One of the biggest errors in this book is the lack of diversity. Are these kids really any different? And parents, don't be fooled by the easy-to-read text -- there are many passages about dreamy boys, spending money on clothes, and experimenting with makeup that make this book not totally inappropriate for younger readers, but a much better fit for kids facing similar issues, readers 11+.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the transformation of Sophie from shy outsider to popular cheerleader. Would you have managed the popular crowd differently than Sophie? Do these characters seem realistic and are they reminiscent of real classmates?