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 novel is the sixth in a series about wealthy, privileged girls who are obsessed with material items, boys, and themselves. This book continues the degradation of the "new" girl, a middle-class "nerd" desperate to fit in. Most of the dialogue is about purchasing of designer labels, finding ways to "lip-kiss" boys, or scheming to bring another kid down.
What's the story?
Having been expelled from Octavian Country Day School, the Pretty Committee members (Massie, Dylan, Alicia, Kristen, and newcomer Claire) are up to their elbows in shopping, hanging out, and talking about themselves. An opportunity arises to audition in L.A. for a part in a tween film that stars their favorite teen actors.
Surprisingly, Claire -- the least glamorous of the bunch -- beats out Massie and Alicia for the part. She develops movie friendships with two teen stars, aggravating the others even though they land roles reporting on the movie happenings for an early-morning news show.
Tricks, miscommunications, and back-stabbing put Claire right back where she started -- at the bottom of the clique heap -- though there's a hint of potential film career.
Is it any good?
There's no doubt that author Lisi Harrison, a writer for MTV, knows the female tween crowd -- what appeals, what's trendy, what's enticing. And clearly with the following of the Clique series, she's touched a nerve with this demographic.
But instead of creating a novel that helps girls see through the shallow world of cliques like the book's Pretty Committee, DIAL L FOR LOSERS perpetuates stereotypes of kids, specifically girls, being malicious, gossipy, jealous, materialistic, and unable to learn from experiences in a way that shows maturation and taking responsibility for yourself. While the "nerdy" (and most sympathetic) character does appear to get a taste of popularity and learn something about herself, the others are as self-involved at the end of the book as they were in the beginning.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Pretty Committee as an example of cliques. Is the depiction of this group realistic?
Why do you think this series is so successful?
Is it realistic for kids to have such easy access to money and so few limits imposed by parents?
Why does the "nerdy" girl stick with the clique?
What would you do in her shoes? Does anyone you know act like this in real life?
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