Nine-year-old Lucy McGee is enduring the type of manipulative bullying that’s familiar to many grade schoolers.
Popular Scarlett (whose bedroom features white carpeting!) invites her to join a new crafts club at her house. Lucy is supposed to be attending a school club, but who can turn down an invitation from someone like Scarlett? Sadly, the first club meeting only involves Lucy cleaning out the filthy garden shed while Scarlett crafts decorations. The following week, Scarlett convinces Lucy to take paint from the art room, telling her the teacher has given permission. Not only is that a lie, but when the pair gets to Scarlett’s house, it’s Lucy who has to do the messy wall painting while Scarlett rests. Bedazzled by Scarlett, Lucy repeatedly skips the Songwriting Club started by Phillip, a nice classmate who could use a friend. With brief text, characters are only sketched but are fully recognizable nonetheless. Thanks to Phillip’s friendly overtures, her parents’ gentle guidance, and some soul-searching, spirited Lucy eventually finds a better path to walk than being Scarlett’s hapless sycophant, offering a nondidactic message to readers as well. Lucy and Scarlett appear white in Meserve’s humorous sketches, but Phillip’s skin is a shade darker. The children’s spontaneous songs—all cleverly rhymed—are included along with a link to an online audio version.
Fun accompanied by useful life lessons. (Fiction. 8-10)