A one-sided, yearslong pranking feud is about to blow up.
Fifth-grade graduate Chadwick Musselman is thrilled that his nemesis, Terry Vance, who has been torturing him with pranks for years, has flunked. Chadwick has the whole summer to work on his “lurking and creeping” campaign to get into the clique of cute Jana Sedgewick “of the glorious red hair” (or at least in a clique that overlaps hers). But his success is limited, and when sixth grade starts it turns out Terry didn’t flunk after all. And because Terry seems to have caused the previous principal to run away, everyone must now attend special classes called “group” to “improve communication,” which Terry uses as an opportunity to gaslight Chadwick. Chadwick enlists the help of his snack-obsessed best friend, Rory, and uber-smart Suvi to combat Terry’s campaign and wage one of his own. Who will win…will anyone? Doan attempts funny but mostly achieves unpleasant with her middle-grade comedy of vengeance. The bad girls (really, all girls except the cartoonishly pedantic Suvi) are vacuous. But the book’s main failing is a complete lack of connection with reality. At the close, it even undercuts its own message that an eye for an eye is a bad idea. Chadwick and Terry seem to be white; the stereotypically brilliant Suvi is an Indian immigrant; and Rory is depicted as black in Andrewson’s illustrations.
Skip. (Fiction. 8-12)