First book of the year

I’ve already read an entire book and we’re just over a week in to the new year! And I have a five-month-old! Yes, it was a children’s book, but it’s over 200 pages long, so it still counts and … wait. Why am I defending myself? A book’s a book!

The New Girl (Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls)

Meg Cabot is one of my favorite authors. She is the Judy Blume of the early 21st century due to the sheer number of age groups for and genres in which she writes. She writes for kids, young adults, and adults. She writes mysteries, supernatural thrillers, chick lit, period romances, and teen romances. She is best known for “The Princess Diaries” series (PLEASE, do not judge them by the movies, especially the atrocious sequel. The books are sharp, funny, snarky, and just completely un-Disney. And I say that as a fan of Disney.) and I highly recommend those along with the “Mediator” series. Her new series for kids “Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls” is a riot. Allie is an animal-loving fourth-grader who wants to be a veterinarian. In the first installment, her family moves to a Victorian house and she learns she will have to switch schools. In the second, she starts at her new school and immediately incurs the wrath of a female bully. The basic premise underlying the series is that Allie writes down “rules” she observes about life in a notebook, thinking that slavishly following these rules, such as “never eat anything red”, will make life easier. It doesn’t.

The supporting characters, especially little brother Kevin who likes everything “fancy”, are funny and quirky. The book has a heartwarming ending, but avoids sappiness. (Although I enjoy a little sappiness at times, so maybe I’m not a good judge.) The only jarring element was the language used by Allie and her friends. I’m not sure most fourth-graders would use such advanced vocabulary. However, if this encourages kids to improve their vocabularies, as many of my childhood favorites did for me, then that’s a pro in my book.

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