The Popularity Papers



Good-hearted story about popularity's true meaning.

What parents need to know

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

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."


Not applicable

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.

Not applicable

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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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. 

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).

Families can talk 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
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Amulet Books
Publication date:April 1, 2010
Number of pages:208
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 13
Read aloud:8
Read alone:9

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent 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 to read it. And a later book does indeed have one of the primary characters smoking. She doesn't like it, but she tries it in order to get back at her mother. The other character hides the shoplifting behaviors of her friends from her guardians, and worries that they will send her back to the orphanage. I find this a very sketchy book. It is one of those books that makes disturbing behaviors look cute and the adults are foolish and unapproachable. Secrets are kept without consequence from friends and parents. And there are some great opportunities to talk through difficult feelings that are completely ignored. I will not even give this book to the thrift store. Its going in the trash.
Kid, 12 years old April 25, 2011

perfect for ages 10-13

there were some inappropriate items min this book that jumped out at me when i read it at age nine, though the size and context were for ages 8-9
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old March 11, 2011

i luv it!

I love it!!!!!! i just read this book this week and i loved it soo much i recommend it to all ages!!!!!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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