September 30th 2014 by Aladdin
Copy received from Kate Shapiro and Company
Finley and her friend have categorized boys into tadpoles, croakers and frogs, based on their evolution from elementary, fart-obsessed kids to fully evolved humans capable of being boyfriends. Since middle school is a maturing process, some of the boys change in interesting ways. Such is the case with Zachary (aka Freakazoid) who was annoying in elementary school, moved away, and came back... sorta cute. Combine this ever changing scenery with problems in school that include an evil Spanish teacher, problems with Maya, annoying younger siblings and a mother who cares more about them than Finley, and it's easy to understand Finley's general discomfort. When her notebook is discovered and Maya turns against her, Finley must figure out how to salvage her reputation as well as her growing relationship with Zachary.
Strengths: Ah, personal identity. This is truly THE middle grade drama, not bullying or class elections or dances. Even with all of the digital technology out there, plenty of paper notes and notebooks are kept by students, and trying to figure out how everyone else fits into the world is a rather strong preoccupation. Dee captures this well, with all the squirmily embarrassing details in which middle grade readers revel as well as a nice, light romance.
Weaknesses: Boys are divided into categories of weasels and beagles, not frogs. Oh, wait. That was me and my friends. In college. No, this was perfectly spot on, except that even though I talk to middle grade boys at length every day, I've never really noticed the voice change problem.
Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe and What Are You Reading? day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers.