Eight-year-old Mandy is back, as bossy and insecure as ever (Don’t Wear Polka-Dot Underwear with White Pants, 2013).
In the second installment in this chapter-book series, Mandy’s friendship with Anya is in jeopardy. Goody-goody Natalie steals Mandy’s thunder again—this time by breaking her wrist. Their teacher assigns Anya to be Natalie’s assistant, which leaves little time for Mandy and Anya to play. Mandy’s jealous reaction to seeing Anya with another friend is to retreat, pout and be, as her mother says, a “crankypants.” Mandy’s behavior threatens to overwhelm the book right from the beginning. In the first chapter alone, she eats a bit out of each piece of pizza in the box, calls her father a “bad babysitter,” demands gummy bears and “fancy-dancy periwinkle sunglasses” of her grandmother, and calls her little brother “stupid.” It’s easy to see why she clings to Anya so fiercely, but this does not make Mandy any more likable. Young readers might learn a little from Mandy, but it’s unlikely that they would choose her as a friend. More likely, they will empathize with poor Anya, pulled between a smothering BFF and a new buddy. The all-too-simple resolution is a relief, but it’s also completely unbelievable.
Even the most wayward child readers would agree that Mandy needs stronger adult direction. (Fiction. 7-10)