A 10-year-old girl faces the various challenges of growing up.
For her 10th birthday, Celie Valentine Altman gets a punching bag and a journal from her father, both of which she puts to good use. Her most pressing problem is that her best friend, Lula, has stopped speaking to her. Celie has no idea why, though she knows it’s somehow connected to a fight she overheard between Lula’s parents. Losing a best friend is heartbreaking for a girl of that age, and Celie’s anger and confusion are palpable. Using a diary format and leavening her tale with humor, Sternberg gets Celie’s voice just right, and readers should find her completely credible. Though she’s kind and resourceful, Celie’s overarching trait is an anger that she has trouble controlling. She expresses her frustrations in words and pictures, and Wright’s spot-on black-and-white illustrations perfectly complement Sternberg’s text. Besides Lula’s mysterious defection, Celie must deal with her older and better-balanced sister, Jo; Jo’s new buddy, Trina, whom Celie dislikes; her embarrassing cousin Carla, who comes to babysit when Celie’s mother goes out of town; and her feelings about her suddenly addled grandmother.
This satisfying slice-of-life story about the permutations of friendship and family resonates. (Fiction. 8-11)