A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this first book in the Beacon Street Girls series is about four very different middle school girls who are forced to learn more about one another and end up becoming the closest of friends. Issues related to diversity, learning differences, first crushes on boys, health and body changes, and awkward relationships with parents and siblings are all dealt with. Even though the plotline is a bit formulaic and the dialogue is unrealistic at times, the main message -- to live happily by accepting differences and working cooperatively with others -- is one that all parents will want their tween readers to glean.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Charlotte, who lives with her widower father, starts the seventh grade in a new school in Brookline, Mass. When she's assigned to sit at the lunch table with Katani, Maeve, and Avery, she quickly forms stereotypical opinions of them. Charlotte's awkwardness with them brings disaster until a writing assignment and a sleepover start to turn the worst of enemies into best friends.
A tower room at Charlotte's house becomes the girls' secret clubhouse. When Charlotte's father discovers them, Katani's grandmother is the one who does the explaining.
Is it any good?
The success of this story is in the character development -- these girls are quirky and fun to get to know -- more than the plotline, though it's very readable. But at times the girls are too good to be true, clearly without socioeconomic pressures and time-consuming responsibilities at home.
Though they have their moments of cattiness, the girls also have the maturity to respect and understand one another's challenges, most likely because they have meaningful adults providing models of responsive listening, caring, and activism. Parents can offer this book to tweens knowing that they'll learn more about living cooperatively and respectfully with others.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the girls' varied backgrounds/interests and how they learn from one another. What does each girl bring to the club that's unique, and what is the common thread pulling them together? Parents can also point out how these girls don't have any socioeconomic stressors (no one has an after-school job or parents with financial hardships). What additional challenges do you think the girls would face in those circumstances?