Seventh-grader Emma Woods decides to start an advice blog at school since she’s already adept at meddling.
Surprisingly, her teachers are fully supportive, putting the blog on the school website. At first there’s little interest from fellow students at Austen Middle School (the references will fly over the heads of the audience). After she intervenes with a Spanish teacher to make his classroom management fairer and tries to move a clock forward to end gym class early, however, Emma begins to earn a reputation as an effective mediator, and interest in her blog—as well as push back—picks up. A series of nasty, bullying comments posted on it gives her the opportunity to launch a clever (and a bit didactic if worthwhile) anti-cyberbullying campaign. Convenience plays a heavy role. Teachers and the school principal don’t seem to mind her interventions. In a world that’s unrealistically convivial, annoyed classmates manage to eventually forgive her failed, sometimes blundering attempts to fix just about everything. Even the disgruntled bully lurks fully offstage, their identity remaining a complete mystery, with the likeliest potential candidates eliminated and the bullying neatly ending as well. But the text is brief and Emma makes a mostly perky and somewhat attractive protagonist, even if she occupies a vanilla-flavored, default-white world, in this first in a series. It remains to be seen whether subsequent volumes will likewise clap back to Jane Austen.
An average tale that’s most likely to appeal to female grade schoolers who might yet believe that this is an accurate depiction of middle school. (Fiction. 9-11)