Cricket Kaufman (who was in Lucas Cott's class in Class Clown) has always been, complacently, the favored best student. But fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Schraalenburgh doesn't have favorites; strict but fair, she is not pleased by Cricket's hand-waving and tattling; and Cricket finds that the little tricks that used to ingratiate her are having embarrassing results--the extra-long book report gets a B-, with no extra credit for its elaborate cover. Worse, new girl Zoe is just as bright as Cricket, and so friendly and unassuming that everyone likes her. Zoe, in fact, excels as naturally as she breathes; and Cricket finally begins to understand that just being best is a hollow goal that wins no friends. Cricket is truly obnoxious, the kid that kids love to dislike; aside from an unlucky series of teachers, Hurwitz doesn't really tell us how she got that way, but we've all known her. Her redemption is plausible, if rather easily achieved, and readers will probably enjoy the healthy, amusing dynamics of Mrs. S's class and the friendship that finally blossoms between Zoe and Cricket--though Lucas was more fun.