"But while the girls' teachings are often amusing, what really makes Dana's book exceptional are the girls themselves... this is a book that can educate readers of any age."– Kirkus Reviews
Two BFFs compile a manual for youngsters who must endure the ordeal that is middle school.
Meet Lucy and CeCee, two middle schoolers documenting what they’ve learned as tweens. Lucy, obsessed with becoming popular, works the social aspect, while CeCee, who finds a B+ unspeakable, focuses on academics. The girls provide helpful tips on everything: fashion, acing exams, passing notes and the most socially acceptable jargon. Along the way, they learn even more about themselves and about one another. Dana’s novel (Cheerage Fearage, 2012, etc.) is a delightful read. Lucy and CeCee write what they know, so they provide a female perspective. While some chapter’s lessons won’t be applicable to most guys—Chapter 21’s “How to Get a Boyfriend”—the majority of their how-to guides have universal appeal. Some of them are positively inspirational: How to not be noticed by the teacher, which includes using a fellow student for cover; and how to covertly chew gum in class (prerequisites for this lesson include gum and a clueless teacher). But while the girls’ teachings are often amusing, what really makes Dana’s book exceptional are the girls themselves. As their collective account progresses, their insecurities are gradually exposed: Lucy’s “Complexion Reports” occur like weather updates and CeCee develops an eating disorder. These tweens aren’t stereotypes; they’re girls with sturdy personalities and distinctive backgrounds. CeCee once attended Catholic school, and Lucy’s mother is the president of the PTA. The lessons in each chapter can be read in any order, but the intimate touches—diary entries, notes, emails, texts—are a story of two girls maturing and understanding and even fighting with each other. “Lingo Lessons” are sprinkled throughout for readers who get headaches from slang, and parents, take note: The girls’ approach to more sensitive issues such as cyberbullying and peer pressure to drink or do drugs is intelligent and responsible.
Lucy and CeCee’s target audience may consist solely of tweens, but this is a book that can educate readers of any age.
In Dana’s debut picture book, one haughty doll learns that being pretty isn’t everything.
Nothing makes little Tasha happier than her four dolls: Emily-Nicole, Chloë-Anne, Lilly-Kate and Gracie. Emily-Nicole is the most beautiful doll of all; with snowy skin, lustrous red locks, turquoise eyes and long eyelashes, she stands tall and proud on Tasha’s bookshelf. But it’s Gracie, Tasha’s other favorite doll, that snuggles up with Tasha when the lights go out at bedtime. Gracie isn’t a beautiful doll like Emily-Nicole; she has spiky hair, purple eyes and a missing arm thanks to Tasha’s hungry dog. While Gracie lies at Tasha’s side every night, Emily-Nicole and the other bookshelf-dwelling dolls taunt her with a song: “Pretty eyes and pretty hair. We’re the best dolls anywhere. If you were a pretty doll, you’d be up here standing tall.” Their cruel words hurt Gracie’s feelings—if only Tasha knew that her prettiest dolls weren’t so pretty on the inside. It’s only when Emily-Nicole encounters danger one afternoon that she learns an important lesson about what makes someone truly beautiful (and not just pretty). Dana’s story is familiar, but welcome, commentary on why “mean girls” never really win. Parents dealing with childhood bullying might find the dolls’ conflict resolution a bit sugarcoated—if only all bullies could be so easily redirected—but it’s a sweet, simple message that is sure to resonate with little girls everywhere—little girls who might think twice before tossing aside their own “ugly” dolls. Glossy pages and Kurt Jones’ candy-colored illustrations add to the book’s girlish aesthetic, and it will find good company on the shelf next to perennial classics like The Ugly Duckling.
A positive read that encourages children to look beyond surface appearances when choosing their friends.