Children's Literature - Krisan Murphy
Annabelle Stevens slides into the New Year at Birchwood Middle School in a cozy cocoon of close friends, until the love bug strikes. With strong characterization of the wide spectrum of middle school girls and boys, the author sets in place a conundrum of secret hopes and fears among Annabelle and her classmates. The hottest topic is the buzz of the upcoming Valentine Dance, while preparing for a science fair project due on the same day is the imminent reality. As the story unfolds, Annabelle gladly drifts along with the personalities of her friendsfrom the fashion savvy, Claire, to the dictionary totting, Emmain a typical desire to fit into the school scene. When the science fair project pairs Annabelle with Oliver, an attractive, friendly, and intriguing lab partner, Tobias insists there is some attraction between Annabelle and Oliver. Annabelle's attempt to keep her crush on Oliver from her close friends eventually backfires. Not only does the protagonist struggle with secret hopes, she also battles secret suspicions which lead her to rescue another student from a poor choice. By the end of the story Annabelle discovers her own strengths and more fully understands her heart. This novel includes the high-drama of one middle school student who matures through conflict, but also encompasses a few others who date, text, keep secrets from parents, and have reputations of collecting kisses. Students who enjoy Annabelle's adventures will also eagerly read other books for middle schoolers by Leslie Margolis. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Annabelle's first year at a coed middle school continues to provide challenges and opportunities to observe that human and animal behavior are not all that far apart. This time it is the bugs that take center stage. It is February and everyone seems to be paired up in anticipation of the big Valentine's Day dance except Annabelle. Even her secret crush/science-fair partner has been snatched away by her friend Claire before she could declare her interest in him. Since love doesn't seem to be in the cards, can their project on how colors attract bugs at least win them first prize at the science fair? While the connection between bug attraction and first crushes is a bit of a stretch, Margolis makes a great attempt to make a case. Annabelle's mix of confidence and anxiety is spot-on for tween readers, and this third installment in the series will not disappoint fans of the first two.—Kathleen Meulen Ellison, Sakai Intermediate School, Bainbridge Island, WA
Margolis delivers a vivacious third installment in the Annabelle Unleashed series.
It is post–winter vacation, and Annabelle is full of New Year's resolutions and hope for the new semester. However, her equanimity is short-lived, as she finds herself embroiled in a multitude of secrets. Two key events occurring over the upcoming Valentine's Day weekend—the science fair and the first school dance—have created a moil of anxiety and intrigue among Annabelle and her friends. Annabelle silently nurtures a secret crush on her gregarious science-fair partner, Oliver. However, her silence leads to distress when good friend Claire openly declares her intent to ask Oliver to the dance. Is it too late for Annabelle to be honest with herself, her friend and Oliver about her crush? Annabelle also finds herself in a quandary when she discovers Emma's boyfriend has cheated on his science-fair project; Annabelle must decide when it is OK to divulge a secret. Margolis' breezy tone nicely conveys the peaks and valleys of middle-school life.
Readers will be cheering for Annabelle as she struggles to extricate herself from this tangled web of subterfuge.(Fiction. 8-12)