Friday, February 05, 2010

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang

Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang have been friends forever. They are in their last year before middle school, and they know it’s time to take action regarding their popularity. Better stated, their lack of popularity is the real problem. They have watched Lydia’s sister make the transition to middle school and somewhere along the lines she went from a tanned, cute, musical girl to a pale, black-haired, pierced being. To tell the truth, Lydia and Julie are a bit scared of her, and want to make sure that nothing like that happens to them along the way.

But how to get popular? They decide their best course of action is to do some good old-fashioned research by studying the girls who are now popular, and recording their findings in a journal. They divide the work up by having Julie do most of the writing and drawing (since she’s better at both), and having Lydia dictate.

They study the 4 main popular girls: Gretchen (who has the cool blonde streak in her hair), Lisa (who has the expensive cell phone), Jane (the fashionista, theater girl) and Sukie (who they can’t really figure out). Should they dye their hair like Gretchen? Learn to knit or play field hockey like Sukie? Start to like boys?

The girls end up trying various hobbies and interests of the other girls on for size. Is the result popularity? What do you think?

Amy Ignatow has created a super cute scrapbook-style book, that tween readers will eat up. Not only is the format fun, by Ignatow is able to go beyond the format to get at the meaty issues of girl-friendships. There are bossy moments, backstabbing moments and she brings the ebbs and flows of girl-friendship alive on the pages. And Julia's parents just happen to be two dads, which is always a good thing. Ignatow does this with panache, without Julie's family being a big deal, simply a fact.

I read this in arc format (due out 4/10) and I cannot wait to see the final copy. The details even in the arc are stupendous with scotch taped bits, school notes, and hilarious illustrations. I hand sold it to a big reader of mine, and it’s safe to say that The Popularity Papers won’t cross my desk again until every girl (and some of the boys) in her class have read it

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