Agatha Parrot is a sprightly kind of girl.
When her older brother, James, receives an email from a cousin he barely knows that ends, “Love from Bella,” he can’t figure out how to answer. Love from a girl? Agatha steps in and solves the problem, fashioning a response that could embarrass James—if he knew about it. More emails follow, ramping up to a notable level of romantic silliness. Bella turns out to be a useful source of words to help Agatha’s friends try to make it onto the spelling team at school, although none of them seem to recognize, at first, that having advance access to the test words is wrong. When they finally make the connection, they’re quick to change their behavior, although telling a fib along the way doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. Frizzy-haired, exuberant, white Agatha relates her large-print, double-spaced tale with ample good humor and an occasional tinge of genial sarcasm that adds a saucy (and realistic) dimension to her character. An illustration of her gang reveals that one of the girls, Bianca, has dark skin, and another, Ivy, may be Asian, but there is nothing in the text to confirm their racial identities. The simple prose, lively illustrations, and upbeat plot combine to make this an appealing choice for newly independent readers.
Agatha is distinctive, funny, and engaging. (Fiction. 7-9)