Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Friends For Keeps

In May, I'll be participating in the blog tour for the upcoming My Best Frenemy by Julie Bowe. So, I thought it was time to get people caught up on the series, so readers can read the first two before book three comes out. This first review initially ran in the now defunct Edge of the Forest.*

My Last Best Friend Julie Bowe

Ida and Elizabeth were the perfect pair of friends—they knew everything about each other and had all the same interests. Elizabeth was such a perfect friend that Ida didn’t need any others. When Elizabeth moves away without Ida saying goodbye, and she doesn’t keep in touch, Ida decides to never have another best friend.

Of course, her parents see it differently and keep setting up play dates with Jenna, who is nothing but a bully as soon as adults leave the room. Then enters the new girl, Stacey. Stacey has a wide smile that you have to try not to smile back too. Ida knows that all of Stacey’s claims can’t be true, but why is she lying and what is she trying to hide? And wait! If Ida doesn’t want to ever have another best friend, then why does she care?

Ida’s struggles with parents, Jenna, and loneliness are at turns heartbreaking and humorous. Jenna is the perfect fourth grade bully—-the darling of adults, but a mean girl who makes other kids eat their science projects. Bowe perfectly captures Stacey’s dilemmas in dealing with Jenna. As the new girl, Stacey is torn between standing up to Jenna and risking becoming her next victim, or keeping her mouth shut and watching Jenna terrorize the fourth grade.

Ida’s adventures are true to life and the ending is one that is happy and believable.

*Well, this is the review I submitted. The Edge of the Forest had an editor, so it might have been slightly different on the site.

Book Provided By... the publisher, for Edge of the Forest review

My New Best Friend Julie Bowe

Things are much more settled in Ida's world than they were in the first book. Stacey's her best friend, but she's friends with the other girls in her class, except Jenna, but even she's mellowed a bit. When Ida and Stacey are playing in Ida's attic, they find a creepy mermaid nightlight and decide it has magical powers to grant wishes. Ida quickly realizes that Stacey is using the nightlight as an excuse to lie and get in trouble. Ida's not sure what to do. Can she tell Stacey just to stop and still be her friend? Meanwhile, the class is preparing a performance for their parents based on the work they've been doing in Greek Mythology. Jenna has all the girls doing a dance reenacting the story of Gaia (with Jenna has Gaia, of course).

I like that Stacey still has an issue with lying and that Ida still isn't sure how to handle it. Something like that is something that's going to take awhile to deal with and when life gets difficult, it only makes sense for Stacey to fall back into those patterns. I think it's also a really common problem/coping mechanism in kids. I also really liked the plotline involving Jenna. While she's not nearly the terror she was in the first book, she's still bossy and over-bearing, especially when it comes to the Gaia dance. We also delve a little more into Jenna's story and what's going on there. Her little sister made me laugh and broke my heart all at once.

It's a great book about friendship for the middle grade set and I'm really excited about the third one!

Oh, also, the class picture on the end papers? Awesome!

Book Provided by... my local library

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