Ten-year-old Ruby Starr feels threatened when a new girl arrives in her fifth-grade class and turns everything upside down.
Ruby, a white girl with blonde, curly hair, is an ardent bibliophile who often imagines she’s a character in a book herself. Ruby’s happily ensconced in school with special girlfriends and the Unicorn Book Club she started when new kid Charlotte, also white, appears. Before Ruby realizes what’s happening, Charlotte’s invited to join the Unicorns and Ruby’s best friend seems “gaga” about the new arrival. When Charlotte eschews reading and suggests it would be fun to turn the book club into a drama club, an angry, hurt, and jealous Ruby asks Charlotte if she’s ever even read a book. Immediately regretting her words, Ruby turns to her fictional heroines for inspiration. After accidentally discovering the secret behind Charlotte’s dislike of books, Ruby eventually has a chance to redeem herself. Peppered with references to her favorite books, Ruby’s fresh, humorous, first-person, present-tense account of her fifth-grade traumas, her real and imaginary friendships, and her supportive family rings true. However, the text is frequently abruptly interrupted by Ruby’s dramatic daydreams complete with (uncredited) cartoon illustrations—a distracting and unsuccessful device. Ruby’s world is a largely white one.
A mostly amusing saga of primary-school friendships with a clever pro-reading subtext. (Fiction. 8-12)