Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Dear Pen Pal

It's 8th grade year for the girls and changes are afoot. Jess is surprised to learn that she has just received a scholarship to snooty Colonial Academy. Jess could care less about the scholarship...she just wants to stay at Walden Middle School with her friends. Her parents, however, keep talking about opportunities, and college, and want to reach a compromise of having Jess board at the school during the week and come home to help at Half Moon farm on the weekends.

Without Jess at Walden, Emma is a bit sad. She misses Jess, and even though things are warming up with Stewart and she is editor of the paper, she still feels like something is missing. If only her parents would finally say yes to a dog...

Megan's grandmother has moved into the house and Megan finally feels like someone understands her. Gigi is totally into fashion and travel. She is an amazing cook who even uses meat (gasp!) in her dishes. But the closer Megan gets to Gigi, the more annoyed her own mother seems to get.

Among all of the changes, Becca and Cassidy actually have something common. Their mothers seem to be going a bit crazy. Mrs. Chadwick has discovered a whole new her, complete with outrageous outfits, spiky hair, and animal print glasses. Mrs. Sloane-Kincaid is always tired. She's nauseous and napping.

The book club is changing too. The club is reading Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster, but what is new to the club are the pen-pals. Mrs. Hawthorne has been in touch with her old college friend who has her own mother-daughter book club, and they thought it would be great for the girls to write to each other while reading the same book. Some of the girls aren't too pleased about this...after all, who even writes letters anymore. Texting or emailing would be so much easier. But the moms stand firm. Old fashioned letters with stamps will be sent!

What follows is a story complete with nasty room-mates, sleep-over pranks, road trips, first kisses and secrets kept from friends and mothers alike. Heather Vogel Frederick's latest installment in the series will not disappoint fans of the first two books. The girls are growing in real time, and their 8th grade problems are different form their 6th grade ones. Each character, though somewhat typed, brings something fresh to the table in Dear Pen Pal. Cassidy's growing away from her jock persona and Emma's geek is ascending the social ladder with the help of her girlfriend status. But the characters never lose their souls over it. The changes simply feel true to the tumultuous times of middle schoolers.

I can't wait to see what the book club reads next!

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