Facing sixth grade, Izzy counts on her friends and family only to find dizzying change.
“The only cure for cold feet is to move your feet forward,” Izzy’s dad says, as she trudges through her first middle school year. The resilient fourth-grader from Izzy Kline Has Butterflies (2017) faces one challenge after another in this sequel, clearly set in the present day. Her friends move on, her father will remarry, her brother turns to tequila, her mother finds new love with the mother of her least favorite boy, and Izzy develops a crush on an exchange student from Spain. Each short chapter (or “small moment”) is headed with an appropriate title: “Drama,” “Long Division,” “Driver’s Ed,” “Home Economics,” “Spin the Bottle,” and so forth. The first-person narrative is written in free verse, using appropriate imagery to reflect each theme, to “paint the portrait of an argument,” as her English teacher suggests. This highly readable, realistic series of sixth-grade moments is punctuated by flashbacks that not only reflect Izzy’s wish to return to childhood comforts, but also provide background. Her family’s Jewish traditions turn up naturally in mentions of Christmas (not her holiday), Hanukkah, and the tallis used by the rabbi who married her grandfathers. Racism is not an issue for these characters (who, save one new brown-skinned character, seem to adhere to the white default), but same-sex relationships are, for some.
A believable portrait of middle school challenges. (Fiction. 9-12)