Small moments, both good and bad, characterize Izzy Kline's fourth-grade year, the year she finds a new best friend.
Short free-verse chapters, each with a school-related heading, describe memorable moments in Izzy's year, from the day she gets the postcard with her room assignment (not with her old friends) through snow days and spring break to the end-of-year picnic with her mom and Quinn, new in September and now her best friend. Ain makes background music of songs from Free to Be You and Me, the children's entertainment project that was shown in many schools in the 1970s, but it is set in the present time. White, Jewish Izzy is an appealing narrator with a convincing voice. There are joyful episodes: giggling with old friends as they practice their times tables; her solo in the fourth-grade performance. And there are serious, difficult ones: the Klines are divorced, which may not be a bad thing since sometimes Izzy’s father’s simmering anger boils over on to his family; her friend Quinn is a cancer survivor, and when she faints at school, everyone worries about a recurrence. But Izzy is resilient. She tends to think positively, and things work out in ways that will please. Izzy's classmates' identities are left purposely vague, a choice that does not disrupt the white default.
Light, bright, and believable, just right for young middle graders. (Fiction. 8-12)