The pack of dorks, a group of unpopular fifth-graders who have banded together, are back for a third outing.
Lucy, fighting against impending puberty, sees her small group of friends changing. April has restyled her frizzy hair and enrolled in a magnet school where she can leave her unfortunate reputation behind. Sam, while saving toddler twins from getting hit by a car, is badly injured. He’s a hero—a status narrator Lucy deeply envies—but his promising gymnastics career is over, and he’s filled with anger that too often is turned on Lucy. Amanda admits that she’s never known her mother, a traveling fortuneteller in a Renaissance fair, but Lucy finds a way to share her own. Sheldon is on a mission, rejected by many of his classmates, to save the rare turtles that are hatching in the playground mulch. Guided by an outstanding teacher, Lucy decides to run for class president, mostly just to make her own discerning point of view heard, despite relentless, realistic harassment from popular boy Tom, also a candidate. Lucy’s heartfelt voice, as she develops a growing understanding—and acceptance—of herself and her friends, is believable and moving, returning to the wisdom and deep emotional resonance that elevated to excellence the first of this series. The book adheres to the white default.
A first-rate exploration of the quiet heroism that keeps unpopular kids moving ahead toward a happier future. (Fiction. 9-12)