What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know a girl gets taunted about her "boobies" by some boys. There is a realistic depiction of the treatment of pigs in a slaughterhouse. A girl steps on a hamster by mistake, killing him. But girls in particular will appreciate the diverse characters and messages about acceptance and friendship: The author portrays a diverse group of friends: Violet is an African-American girl whose mom lives in a mental ward. Camilla has two moms. Yasaman is a religious Muslim character who wears a hijab and prays in school. Each girl has her own set of issues, but they work through them and fully accept one another.
What's the story?
Violet, Katie-Rose, Camilla, and Yasaman aren't just BFFs, they're FFFs -- flower friends forever. Together they embark on a crusade to rid their school of evil Cheezy Nips -- unhealthy cheese snacks without any cheese in them. In the meantime, they deal with all things tween, including crushes, friendships in peril, mean girls, difficult family relationships, and bullying. All of this is set against a social media backdrop: back at home, the girls communicate through Luyyabunches.com, a private networking site that includes a blog and videos. This is the second book in the Flower Power Book series; the first is Luv Ya Bunches.
Is it any good?
There's a lot packed into the book, and the author has written it in a decidedly contemporary tween voice, which can be overly sweet with its liberal use of exclamation points and italics. Readers may find the diversity too forced and simplified -- none of the major problems the girls face are about their ethnicity, race, or the sexual preference of their parents. But the messages are very positive, and much about their elementary-school life is realistic.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the four different friends on the book's cover. Do they seem like full-bodied characters -- and could they be friends in real life? In what way do the girls emulate stereotypes, and how do they defy them? Can you think of other books or movies led by a very diverse group of girlfriends, like this one?
One of the themes in the book is bullying -- a topic that has also been in the news very much as of late. This might be a good time to check in with your kids about what kind of bullying goes on in their schools. Does what happens in the book seem realistic? How do your own experiences compare?