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From the Starring Jules series, volume 1

by Beth Ain

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-545-44352-4
Publisher: Scholastic

Seven-year-old Jules has been asked to audition for a television commercial. But she needs help. Will she turn to her know-it-all ex-best friend for it?  

Debut author Ain introduces a new chapter-book darling with pizzazz and quite a stage presence. But Jules is in the middle of a mean fight with her former best friend, Charlotte. Charlotte and two other friends went on vacation to a snooty resort together without Jules, leaving her feeling left out from all their newfound sophistication. But with the opportunity of a lifetime four days away, Jules doesn’t have the time to stay angry with Charlotte. With a first-person perspective similar to Junie B. Jones, this list-making little girl’s voice seems forced in places. A catalog of clothing decisions, from overalls covered in red poppies to argyle knee socks sounds nearly logical instead of feeling free-spirited or even youthful. It is also a wee bit disheartening to see such young girls fighting with cable TV–worthy vitriol, with fancy hotel towels and manicures as the cause. The storyline firms up once Grandma Gilda is called and travels to be by Jules’ side. The audition provides great tension with a hilarious outcome that leads to real emotion and a satisfying end.

Though not as distinctive as Clementine, Jules eventually settles, becoming a vulnerable and likable heroine. (Fiction. 6-9)