Fourth-grade wiseacre Shelby Bloom, a new kid in town, attempts to make friends at any cost.
Shelby, who loves puns and practical jokes (fake vomit, fake dog poo, fake bugs, the works), is none too happy about her family’s relocation from Ohio to Los Angeles. Neighbor Ajay Patel is friendly, but his circle’s closed to girls (worse: They don’t get her jokes). When Brooke Crumpkin and Tessa Lee, two stereotypically vapid, humorless fashionistas, admire Shelby’s accidentally mismatched shoes, Shelby claims to come from Paris to impress them. Unsurprisingly, this backfires. Shelby lies again when she pretends to love horses to get in with a pair of horse fans, only to be invited to go riding with them. In a twist, neither girl has ever ridden before, and one was pretending as much as Shelby. Shelby’s new friends the horse girls plus Ajay, breaking out of his expected role, stand up for her against the fashion robots, and in the spirit of friendship, Shelby invites Gabby Garcia, who has been laughing at her jokes all along, to join them. Shelby, the horse girls, and Brooke are white; Ajay, Tessa, and Gabby are cued Indian, Asian, and Latinx respectively, by naming convention. The story is thematically disastrous, and the cartoonish depictions of Brooke and Tessa are cringeworthy, as is a mercifully short episode in which Shelby tries to convince her sister to wear a sombrero to school for “Crazy Hat Day.”
This so-called funny girl is profoundly unfunny. (Fiction. 8-12)