A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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?
For kids who love friendship tales
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