McCafferty, Megan. Jessica Darling's It List #1: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness and Perfection.
3 September 2013, Poppy
Copy recieved from the publisher
Jessica is nervous about leaving elementary school and entering seventh grade, especially when her college aged sister Bethany presents her with her "sure-fire" notes to popularity. They include "wearing something different every day", which Jessica interprets as wearing something weird, which is a struggle since she is a jeans and t shirt kind of girl. She finds vintage rock t shirts in her sister's closet when she is supposed to find Bethany's fashion logs. She's supposed to become a cheerleader but bombs at tryouts, becoming the mascot instead. She steals the show as a mascot, but makes her friends angry-- but no one knows she's the mascot. In a shop class by mistake, she meets a boy she kind of likes, and there's a lot of jockeying over lunch tables and friends. In the end, Jessica realizes that Bethany's list didn't even make Bethany that successful, but since the activities encouraged Jessica to eventually become her true self, she's looking forward to the It List #2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes and Fau Friends. (Fall 2014)
Strengths: For readers who enjoy Harrison's Clique series, this will be a big hit. Friend drama, fashion drama, boy drama; it's all here. Jessica has her moments. I appreciated that she was a little quirky and unusual, and that the friend drama was realistic.
Weaknesses: This feels like giving children chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Once in a while won't hurt them, but it wouldn't be good every day. I still don't think my students obsess so much over fashion, or even "fitting in" at middle school, so that part didn't seem realistic. Still, I would have probably loved this in seventh grade, and my students will, too.