Weston, Carol. Ava XOX (Ava and Pip #3)
February 1st 2016 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Ava has been friends with Chuck for a long time, so she is surprised when he starts "dating" Kelli, who is rather mean. Also surprising is how jealous she feels when she sees Chuck with another girl. Aren't they just friends? In her diary, Ava chronicles her feelings about Chuck, as well as her problems that start with Pip and one of her friends having to give a talk about the artist Botero. Unfortunately, Pip's partner, Taryn, is on the heavy side, so when the two show pictures that the artist painted of heavier women, the boys in the class make fun of Taryn. Hoping to help, Ava makes some posters with "tips" about being "Fit, not Fat" and gets permission to hang them in school. Taryn seems grateful for the information, but some of the mean girls in the class accuse Ava of being sizist and mean. Since that wasn't her intention, Ava is surprised, but tries to work to put a more positive spin on the tips. She also finally talks to Chuck, and the two come to a very nice compromise somewhere between being friends and dating, since they are only in 5th grade.
Carol Weston's years as an advice columnist for Girl's Life Magazine show here, as she realistically addresses preteen concerns. I met her at Kidlitcon, and she talked about how hard it was to address issues of weight in fiction without seeming accusing, and I think she did a good job here showing not only Ava's concern with being healthy, but also showing how difficult Ava found it to have a discussion about weight. I enjoyed the budding romance with Chuck, and Ava's feelings of confusion are something that seem all too realistic to anyone who has ever had a middle school crush.
Ava's family is very supportive, and she has a nice relationship with her quiet sister, Pip. While I am not a fan of Ava's obsession with palindromes, it does set her apart from other characters in middle grade fiction, and readers may pick up some interesting facts about words from her.
For readers who like Lowry's Anastasia Krupnik series, Naylor's Alice books, or Myracle's Ten, the Ava and Pip series will provide a new literary friend who shares many of their concerns.