Nine-year-old Paige Turner is tired of being timid—but she needs a new name to go with her new identity.
The beginning of fourth-grade seems like the ideal time to change. Paige is determined to be brave this year: do flips on the high bar at recess, stand up to the class bully, Viveca Frye, and maybe, just maybe, even eat cauliflower. The name Oklahoma feels perfect for her new, gutsy personality. After all, at the end of the musical Oklahoma! everyone comes out on stage and yells, “Yee-haw!” A person who yells yee-haw is precisely who Paige wants to be. But changing names is not easy. And neither, as Paige learns, is fourth grade. Questions of popularity and loyalty test her friendships, and the annual talent show has her terrified. But with the help of an inspired teacher and a trusty piano on which to bang and clang out her frustrations, Paige realizes that she doesn’t need to change herself entirely. She can keep a little Oklahoma inside, just in case. Glassman’s spot illustrations have the same energy as her swift prose; Paige’s symbolic lassos are swinging all over the pages.
Though it’s not quite as layered as some other beginning chapter books, young readers who are searching for their own selves will certainly appreciate this new heroine. (Fiction. 7-10)