The familiar body-swap scenario gets a further magic twist in this comedic middle school fantasy.
Skylar Welshman is an outsider—the new kid in her seventh-grade class. When she tries out for the school play, a mortifying onstage incident earns her the nickname Belchman. If only Skylar could have her idol’s perfect life. Ruby Rivera is the star of the Disney-esque genie comedy series Ruby in the Lamp. Although Ruby has everything superstardom brings, however, she wants to trade in her designer wardrobe and millions of social media followers for textbooks and sleepovers. A fantastic turn of events leads to accidental body-switching courtesy of a real magic lamp. Initially, each girl thinks she’s hit the jackpot. Skylar can have the life of a beloved star, and Ruby gets to be a regular kid. But then reality creeps in. Skylar has to get used to public scrutiny of her every move, and Ruby must navigate the pitfalls of middle school. Is the grass really greener on the other side? While the premise isn’t exactly earthshakingly original, it’s still an appealing one, though Brody misses an opportunity by not interrogating the girls’ experiences as members of different races: Ruby is a brown-skinned, bicultural Latina (Mexican and Salvadoran), and Skylar is white. The narrative’s on the long side for a middle-grade novel, but each girl narrates in alternating chapters, maintaining a brisk pace.
Clichés and superficiality aside, a fun read for anyone who might wish they could be someone else for a little while. (Fantasy. 8-13)