Best friends Nikki and Deja are back in a tale of school elections and friendship.
Confident Deja is excited when Ms. Shelby tells the class that third graders will be allowed to run for student-body president, imagining herself in the role and doing everything she can to make it happen. Nikki is worried about the silent treatment her parents are giving each other, but Deja can only see as far as the election and appoints the reluctant Nikki as her campaign manager. After she insults Nikki, Deja is on her own to make posters and write the speech that has to be delivered in front of the whole student body. Deja’s self-absorption threatens to take over this slight story, making Deja less and less likable as the story progresses. It’s hard to see why Nikki remains friends with bossy Deja. She forces Nikki to hide forbidden candy; she tattles to her teacher about every little thing; she only thinks of herself. When Deja flubs her poorly conceived speech, though, Nikki steps in to help with the last day of the campaign, pumping a little life into it. Freeman’s occasional black-and-white illustrations capture the dramatic tension between the girls and Deja’s terror as she faces the microphone.
While beginning chapter books with African-American characters are rare and usually welcome, this particular installment in a usually sunny series falls flat. (Fiction. 6-9)