Shaking Up the House

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Shaking Up the House Book Poster Image
Fun, prank-filled story set in White House has tween appeal.

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Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Stands out for positive role models.

Educational Value

Historical facts and information about the White House (architecture, residence, public areas, events, etc.) and its occupants (in particular on previous children of presidents).

Positive Messages

It's better to have friends (and be a good friend) than to be right. If someone's feelings are hurt, it wasn't a good joke. People shouldn't be defined forever by a few bad choices. Listen to your gut; if it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

Positive Role Models

The outgoing and incoming first daughters are friends from the campaign trail, but a prank the current White House daughters play on the soon-to-be first kids fuels hurt feelings, anger, and revenge. An escalating prank war threatens their friendships, as well as burdens White House staff. There are sweet sisterly moments of loyalty and support. Winnie and Ingrid are Latinx, and Zora and Skylar are Black. Winnie and Ingrid's dad is the first Latinx president and Zora and Skylar's mom is the first Black woman president-elect. Background characters are also racially diverse.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Yamile Saied Méndez's Shaking Up the House tells the story of an epic prank war between four preteen friends, siblings Winnie and Ingrid and twins Zora and Skylar. The girls must present a friendly, united front -- Winnie and Ingrid's dad is the outgoing president, America's first Latino president, while Zora and Skylar's mom is the president-elect, the first Black woman to ever be elected president. The girl express their fear if the media got wind of the hurt feelings, anger, and the girl's escalating prank war, the commentary could end up more racist than simply gossipy. Some of the pranks are quite mean and impact White House staff members just trying to do their jobs, but there's no violence or concerning language. There are plenty of interesting facts and historical tidbits about the White House for budding U.S. history buffs. A fun read in presidential election years, but also for kids curious about the inner workings of the White House.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bymicsreadinterest April 24, 2021

a review about shaking up the house

PROS: I absolutely loved the fact that there was a HUGE amount of diversity present in this book. It really is so empowering to read stories about what could po... Continue reading

What's the story?

In SHAKING UP THE HOUSE, First Daughters Winnie and Ingrid decide the perfect way to welcome their friends and soon-to-be new Fiirst Daughters Zora and Skylar, who are twins, is to play a friendly prank on them. They're staying as guests in the White House until their mom is inaugurated. But Zora and Skylar are hurt by the prank and decide to get Winnie and Ingrid back. An ever-meaner prank war erupts between the friends involving stolen underwear, green Jell-O powder in towels, and other acts of revenge. When a prank goes wrong, the hurt feelings and anger boil over to the rest of the household, but a final twist threatens to ruin the inauguration of Skylar and Zora's mom. Will the girls be able to work together to save the day?

Is it any good?

This silly, irreverent story will likely delight young readers. Shaking Up the House gives readers a peek at the goings-on in the private residence of the White House. Chapters alternate between the four girls' perspectives, so we get to see how each girl experiences life surrounded by history, staff, and secret service. Part of the fun of this book is seeing the girls fight for mischief and normalcy in a very unique setting. Authentic cultural details about the two presidential families and the realities of racism are woven in artfully by the author, without defining the individual personalities of the characters.  

The implausibility of the president and the president-elect's families overlapping their stay in the White House, and the lack of explanation for this decision may bother observant readers. It's also not clear why the girls keep the prank war going, even when weighed down by guilt and a desire to not ruin friendships. The story would have benefitted form more scenes of conflict-free girl friendships. But these issues aren't likely to register for most younger readers, so this is a good choice for kids in search of an interesting, feel-good, fast-moving story to read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the girls decide to keep the prank war going in Shaking Up the House. Why do they keep pranking each other, even when they know they've hurt the other girls' feelings? Why do you think none of the girls stands up to their sister and insist the pranks stop?

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  • What do you think about the pranks the girls play on one another? All in fun? Mean-spirited? Gone too far? Who is affected beyond the girls? When are jokes not actually funny or appropriate?  

  • Racsim as a theme is mentioned throughout the story. How does the threat of racism influence the girls' choices? How does race and/or racism influence your life? What can you and others do to decrease the impact of racism in your community?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love friendship and tween tales

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