McCoy, Mimi. Her Evil Twin
1 May 2011, Scholastic
Anna is having trouble adjusting to middle school, and hanging out with her best friend Dorey doesn't help. Dorey doesn't care about being popular or about what she wears, and Anna is embarrassed to be around her. When the glamorous Jessamyn gives Anna a note to meet in a rarely used girls' bathroom, Anna is excited to be included in Jessamyn's secret group. When she agrees to take part in their initiations and "calls on the spirits" in the bathroom mirror, however, she faints. Jessamyn and her friends think that Anna is dopey, but it isn't long before Anna meets Emma, who is dangerous and cool. The two eat lunch on the roof of the school, throw balloons filled with catsup at Jessamyn, and even go off campus. Emma is a bit of a mystery, though-- she doesn't answer her phone, and is elusive about details of her life. She is also very jealous, and when Anna talks to Dorey and her new lab partner, Benny, bad things happen to them. Eventually, Anna is blamed for things that Emma is doing and starts to wonder: is Emma really her imaginary friend from childhood, and has she always been this evil?
Strengths: Anna's angst about being seen with Dorey is so true to life, and this is a pleasantly creepy tale. The 6th grade girls at my school adore all of the Scholastic Apple series: Candy, Poison AND Rotten!
Weaknesses: Not enough attention is given to why or how Emma has managed to manifest herself. I always appreciate a little bit of an explanation.
Mason, Jane B. and Stephens, Sarah Hines. Now You See Me...
1 November 2010, Scholastic
Abby and Lena love to go to thrift stores, and Lena is thrilled and surprised to find a working Polaroid Impulse camera for only five dollars. The woman at the thrift store doesn't want to sell it, but is eventually convinced. The only problem? There is the image of a boy that shows up in all of the pictures, a boy who wasn't there and who becomes clearer with every picture. Middle school is about to start, but Lena is bound and determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. She and Abby consult the local library microfilm collections and find out about a boy who fell from the water tower in the 1990s and was killed... a boy who might just have owned the camera Lena has! What is his ghost trying to tell them?
Strengths: I REALLY enjoyed this one! I think it was all the details... the thrift stores, the fact that Lena's father was obsessed with making jam, the sense of urgency about school starting, Abby being a girl of color, but this being inconsequential to the story. A nice, creepy ghost story, too, with a sad but hopeful ending.
Weaknesses: It's great that Lena's cousin mistakenly got Polaroid film for her-- if she needs to buy any now, it would cost her $60 for ten exposures! Still, the old technology works for now.