Being the new kid in school isn’t easy, and as Dani “Don’t call me Danielle!” Donaldson learns, it’s even harder to be someone you’re not.
Dani’s parents have split up, and she and her mom have moved five hours away from both Dani’s dad and her best friend. Dani has to make new friends immediately so her parents don’t know how afraid, lonely, and unhappy she is. And she’ll have to pretend she’s cool so the kids at her new school will like her. So the 11-year-old lies to her new classmates: She was the lead in all the drama productions at her old school. The horrible truth only her diary knows: She’s never been in a play. The popular girls are so impressed with Dani they invite her to a sleepover. How can Dani keep her lie a secret when the girls will certainly want to play games like Truth or Dare? Can she keep up with her new image and her new friends? Or will everything fall apart? This very slim, easy-reading series opener is presented as Dani’s secret diary, with lined pages, faux handprinted text, and sketches. Although Dani is 11, the reading level will appeal to both younger readers and struggling older middle graders. Artwork shows Dani as a white girl with light hair, and whiteness is assumed for most characters, with only naming conventions suggesting otherwise.
This brief book’s pat message: Be yourself. (Fiction. 5-9)