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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Friendship Experiment follows an 11-year-old aspiring scientist whose family is grieving the loss of her grandfather, worried about financial security, and coping with an inherited bleeding disorder that causes the children in the family to suffer frequent and serious nosebleeds. The subject matter is serious, but Erin Teagan's debut novel is full of heart and winning humor. Teagan, who has a background as a research scientist, creates a realistic and empathetic portrayal of a girl with passion and an aptitude for scientific investigation.
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What's the story?
THE FRIENDSHIP EXPERIMENT is Maddie's attempt to cope with her grief for her grandfather, her anxiety over starting school without her best friend, who's going to private school, and her testy relationship with her older sister, who shares the same rare blood disorder Maddie has. An aspiring microbiologist, Maddie has no patience for peers who don't appreciate real science. Inspired by her grandfather, she starts to write secret standard operating procedures -- SOPs -- for managing situations she finds bothersome, like the weirdos she's stuck with at lunch. Her sarcastic SOPs, however, ignore her grandfather's instruction: Always be kind. The consequences of ignoring that advice, she learns, can be disastrous.
Is it any good?
Erin Teagan's strong, well-written debut combines a science-loving heroine with tween jealousy, nastiness, and rivalry -- but this isn't your typical mean-girls middle school dramedy. One of the meanest girls in The Friendship Experiment is Maddie herself, who's really nursing a tender, bruised heart. Her impatience with people who don't match her passion and knowledge leaves her isolated. She surprises herself by just how mean she can be, which helps make her such an authentic, relatable character.
Maddie's science notebook is just like a diary, helping her process relationships and recognize her own strengths and flaws. Her experience is a good reminder that both scientific inquiry and relationships require risk-taking and an open mind. Teagan's lab experience helps give her novel an excellent STEM grounding.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Maddie's science notebook in The Friendship Experiment and keeping journals. Do you find it helpful to vent ugly feelings in a journal? When does it cross the line from emotional release to just being mean?
Why do you think there are so many books about the transition to middle school? Have you found any that relate to your own experience?
How have new friends come into your life? How have you helped build new friendships?
- Author: Erin Teagan
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: November 1, 2016
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 12
- Number of pages: 256
- Available on: Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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