Perfectionist Maria Pepper’s wacky family interferes with her mascot ambitions in this simultaneously released sequel to The Pepper Party Picks the Perfect Pet (2019).
Supertidy Maria (an oddball in her family) is the kind of go-getter who lives her life by her favorite book: How to Make Friends, Influence People, and Crush Your Enemies into Dust. Her next step on the path to greatness is winning the school contest to get to be school mascot, the San Pimento Olive. But she’s surprised by stiff competition, which comes in the form of Darren Dill IV, an uber-rich new kid who ups the stakes by giving away free ice cream. Their contest takes comedic forms (including a rap battle featuring 12-year-old Ricky Pepper versus Darren’s butler, Crinklebottom, a DJ, Y’allTube celeb, and lawyer) and culminates in the actual tryouts. Darren unexpectedly offers friendship right before her family (in attempts to help her) causes their biggest disaster yet in front of the whole school (and on camera). Pushed too far, Maria quits her family. Darren takes her in, offering her Crinklebottom’s services to divorce them, just as he’d done with his own family. It’s up to the Peppers to uncover Darren’s true agenda, creating a climax that uses funny takes on sinister imagery to reach new heights of hilarity and bring forth familial reconciliations. The main characters all have light skin, some Peppers lighter than others, with the unfortunate result that the rap battle is waged by apparently all-white combatants.
Exceptionally funny. (Fiction. 7-10)