Breezy writing and interesting characterizations enliven a predictable tale. As Emma tells it, it's the President's fault: taking her mother's advice, which is inspired by Election Day, she votes for the most qualified person to star in her fourth-grade class play. Unfortunately, that person is not best friend Sandy, who immediately cools--an estrangement that extends to the girls' mothers. Things go from bad to worse when Emma retaliates by befriending her choice, Marguerite, whom she actually finds hard to take. Finally, after a blow-up with Marguerite, Emma finds a way to rekindle her friendship with Sandy--one she suggests to her mother as well. The matching short fuses of mother and daughter, plus Emma's spirited narration, animate an otherwise routine middle-grade story. Illustrations not seen.