The Meanest Girl by Debora Allie (Roaring Brook, 2005). It's not only that The World Trade Center is no longer in her view, though that's part of the mix. It's also that Alyssa's best friend is suddenly pals with her worst enemy, that someone has sent her a love note, that fathers leave, that mothers flirt, that embarrassing moments happen, and by the way, where does God fit into the whole mess anyway? A funny, tender debut novel, well-grounded in its sixth grade sensibility. Charming voice. Ages 8-up. Read chapter one (PDF file).
More Thoughts on The Meanest Girl
So much about this bravely-written story rang true...the competition for a best friend...Bree'd (a' la "Desperate Housewives") supermoms...the Italian American and deftly multicultural cast.
Alyssa tackles the larger questions of God, global responsibility, and who may or not be protecting us in uncertain times. For too long, it seemed the children's literary trade had handed over faith-related themes to the religious presses. Alyssa's perspective should resonate with many young readers.
I also enjoyed the teacher crush as I had something of a sixth-grade crush on my teacher, Mr. Rideout. Given, though, that he nicknamed me "Olive Oil" because of my then tall, slender build (hard to imagine, I know) and a portrait drawn by a kindergartener, I'm almost certain it wasn't mutual. (His loss, I'm sure).
Bonus points for the Trixie Belden references.
Note: Debora is signing tomorrow, June 4, at The Little Book House in New York. Write today to reserve a copy to be shipped to you (or, if you're in the area, go see the author in person!).
Cynsational News & Links
The June issue of KidMagWriters.com features an updated on Robert's Snow, an interview with KidZone editor Anne Huizenga, information on putting together a show-stopping portfolio, and more!
CBC Showcase: Fiction on the Edge: recommended upper level YA books, including: Far From Xanadu and Keeping You A Secret, both by Julie Anne Peters; A Fast and Brutal Wing by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson; Playing In Traffic by Gail Giles; and A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary E. Pearson. See also: Hot Off The Press: New Books.
History of Children's Book Illustration and the Role Women Played by Denise Ortakales.
Debbi Michiko Florence has updated her interviews with authors Sally Keehn and Toni Buzzeo.
Windows Into Their Lives: The Ninth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators by Connie Rockman (H. W. Wilson, 2004) from CBC Magazine.