The Popularity Papers

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
The Popularity Papers Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Good-hearted story about popularity's true meaning.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The girls learn that they should worry less about being popular and instead "do what makes you happy" and "hang out with other people who make you happy." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lydia and Julie are both nice girls who learn from their mistakes. In the end, they even learn that the popular girl they considered the most stuck up is "actually not that bad."



There is some age-appropriate stuff about flirting with boys and crushes. An exchange student writes a poem expressing his feelings for Julie, which the class ends up performing in song. Julie lives with her two dads, but the specifics of the situation are not explored.


Some discussion of the stuff popular girls (and their parents) have, like cherry-flavored Chapstick and cell phones.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there isn't much to worry about in this sweet book. There's a little talk about boys and crushes ("If he's your boyfriend, you have to kiss him," Julie writes to Lydia). There's also some minor discussion about the girls' family structures (Lydia's parents are divorced whereas Julie lives with her two dads). The girls feel bad when they make mistakes, and learn valuable lessons, most importantly that it's better to do the things you love -- with the people that you like -- than it is to be popular. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6 and 9-year-old Written byAutumn1 April 19, 2013

Review of the Review

I agree with what another parent said about this being for older kids, though it is marketed to younger. I think the topics are what we want to keep our childre... Continue reading
Adult Written byMurMel September 20, 2011

Hang on a minute!

I completely disagree with the review. It is written/drawn to APPEAL to kids under 10. But no 10 year old I know is interested in it. The 2nd graders DO want... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old March 11, 2021

Definitely check this out!

This book is fun to read for all ages! No content, although there is a scene in a later book, “Love and Other Fiascos”, where two secondary characters make out,... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 3, 2020

I didn't really like it

At the beginning, I liked the book, but as you read on, it became boring. They only talked about popularity and ways to get popular.

What's the story?

Lydia and Julie are fifth graders who want to be popular. Realizing that "a lot can change between elementary school and junior high," the best friends decide "to observe the girls who are already popular" in their class. By writing down (and illustrating) their observations in a secret notebook, the girls hope that they can soon discover -- and emulate -- the behavior that sets these girls apart. Of course, instead the girls experience a lot of embarrassing moments -- and learn some valuable lessons along the way.

Is it any good?

Readers will likely laugh out loud at some of Lydia and Julie's missteps (such as when Lydia decides to take stick fighting lessons to get to know an older boy who is in the class). The cartoon art, handwritten notes, and other fun touches make this a quick but memorable read -- even if most readers will be familiar with the lesson already (i.e. it's better to be around people you like than to be popular).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the book's format, which is put together like a comic book, with cartoon-y drawings and other fun details, like handwritten notes. Is this what initially drew you to the book? Are you more likely to read books like this that try something creative? Can you think of other graphic novels you've read?

  • This book has a message we've seen before: Two good friends realize that being around people you love is more important than being popular. Can you think of other books or movies that share this message? What is your own definition of popularity?

  • Julie and Lydia are very different. Julie is shy and artistic whereas Lydia is more outgoing and loves to perform.  Can you think of other books about opposite friends? Is this something that happens in real life? Which of these girls do you feel more like?

Book details

  • Author: Amy Ignatow
  • Genre: Friendship
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Publication date: April 1, 2010
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 13
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Last updated: January 3, 2020

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