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I WAS A FIFTH-GRADE ZEBRA by Nancy J. Hopper

I WAS A FIFTH-GRADE ZEBRA

By Nancy J. Hopper

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8037-1420-3
Publisher: Dial

 Hopper (The Queen of Put-Down, 1991) offers another light, humorous story focusing on the self-consciousness of preadolescence. Chelsea Zeller sees herself as a zebra in a herd of ponies--especially when friend Rachel announces a dress-up, bring-your-own-boy birthday party. Chelsea's interests lie elsewhere: she prefers jeans, writes poetry, loves science, and recently lost her pet tarantula. Boys aren't in the picture, except for C.R., whom she has alienated by announcing that he smells like cat dirt. However, with some coaxing and intervention from her mother and older sister, Chelsea succumbs to the need to fit in--and unwittingly attends the party with a third grader, complete with frogs in pockets, impersonating his seventh-grade brother Shawn. Weeks later, when Chelsea meets the real Shawn, she discovers that an interest in science doesn't preclude an interest in boys and that zebras may be better off than ponies. The story is short on substance, plays up the petty rivalries of ten-year-old girls, and hints at--but glosses over--sensitive issues, including peer pressure, interracial dating, and what it really means to be different. Still, it's a fun read that's bound to appeal to its target audience. (Fiction. 8-10)