School Library Journal
This amalgamation of graphic novel and chapter book cleverly integrates wrinkled-looking notes, varied typefaces, wacky line drawings, and movie countdowns with straightforward prose to tell the funny if far-fetched tale of fifth-grader Zoey. Although sixth grade is 198 days away, she's already worried about her place on the "coolability" meter compared with the Bashleys: "Brittany-with-two-Ts and Ashley." An expert on obscure facts about the presidents, Zoey's idea of a good time is to catch bullfrogs and other amphibians with her friend Venus. She's hoping for a fairy godmother to make her cooler but what she finds is her great-grandfather's bowling shirt and fedora, which at least covers her bed-head. She runs into a photo shoot by U Grl of the Bashleys and their friends in the school hall. When the magazine's reps ask for something interesting from a locker, Zoey jumps in. Not only is her locker jam-packed with geeky books, art supplies, and other paraphernalia, and the reps are taken with her sense of style as well. Geek Chic offers more wish fulfillment than reality for girls-the staff members all don fedoras like Zoey's. There's nothing new about its message of self-acceptance except that it's aimed at the girls who need to hear it at younger and younger ages. Although slightly confusing in the beginning, the format will attract reluctant readers, and the story will please girls who cultivate offbeat interests with as much enthusiasm and zaniness as Zoey.-Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Tweens will celebrate the arrival of an intrepid heroine with plenty of sparkle and spunk to spare. At nearly 11, Zoey may have just begun fifth grade, but she is already counting down to sixth. Determined not to put those 198 days to waste, she decides that an image-intervention is required in order to achieve that pinnacle of cool: to sit with "The Bashleys" during lunch. Palatini captures the growing pains of young girls on the cusp of preadolescence, struggling to define themselves while desperately wanting to fit in with the group. Zoey chronicles her (mis)adventures with an openness and wry self-awareness that will have readers laughing even as they cringe in commiseration. An impromptu meeting with teen magazine journalists leads to Zoey's discovery that geek is chic, when you embrace your individuality. Snappy prose coupled with graphic-novel styling holds appeal for savvy modern readers up-to-date with rapid-fire texting and instant messaging. (Fiction. 8-11)
Read an Excerpt
Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone
Before you give yourself a total ha-ha snickerfest, yes, I know, fairy godmothers are in that group with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Wish Upon a Star, etc., etc., etc....
When you're eleven, you have entered the age of serious double digits, which means you are now:
(a) too old
b) too cool to believe in that stuff anymore.
"You still believe in who?"
Warning: followed by uncontrollable laughter by certain people who are (a) or (b) or both. Proceed at your own risk.
However, I'm thinking, me being an "almost" (as in technically ten) cancels out the (a) part (see above), and the (b) part (ditto on the above) is what I'm not—which is why I'm still allowed to think (c) fairy godmother.
This is a truly excellent thing, because I am not giving up Santa Claus—ever—and being halfway to eleven is when you really absolutely need a fairy godmother the most. I'm going to require major fairy dust intervention in the hair department alone. There are just so many days a person can wear a hat, if you know what I mean.
Here's the spill (Venus-speak for "explanation"):
Sixth grade is only 198 days away. That's not a lot of time to learn about all the stuff you need to learn about. (And believe me, there's a lot of stuff to learn about that you never even thought you needed to learn about.) Especially if you don't want to spend your whole life at Table Ten.
Remember the hourglass and Dorothy? (Agree. You can never be too old for TheWizard of Oz.) Well, I'm down to those last grains myself. The clock is tick-tocking.
Venus says her sister says that if you're not cool by sixth grade, you are not going to live happily ever after in sixth grade. The Cool Police are taking notes.
Being almost eleven is getting all very complicated. It's even way more complicated than one of Mrs. Helferich's word problems:
Person One walked from Town A to Town C. It took 1 hour and 25 minutes to walk from Town A to Town B. It took another 25 minutes to walk from Town B to Town C. Person One arrived in Town C to meet Person Two at 2:45 p.m.
What time did he leave Town A?
I am definitely going to need outside help.
Especially in the previously mentioned hair and all-important accessorization categories.
I've fallen way behind in accessories.
It must have happened back in third grade when I wanted to be Amelia Earhart. The only accessory she had was a helmet. That was very useful for Amelia. Me too. The thing is, being almost eleven... you really can't wear a helmet to school anymore. Unless you ride a bicycle.
The backpack I made out of duct tape is pretty incredibly awesome, though. I'm just not sure The Bashleys (Brittany-with-two-Ts and Ashley, who are both accessory experts and "boing" on the coolability meter at Harry S. Truman) think a duct-tape backpack is a fashion accessory. Even if orange and purple is a truly outrageous color combination and duct tape is truly the most major astronaut accessory ever.
That's why I'm thinking about getting my own fairy godmother. Instant makeovers are FG specialities, and they know all about accessorization and "chic" too. (The Bashleys use that word all the time.)
According to my Merriam-Webster Pocket Edition, "chic" can be used as a noun or an adjective. Either way, it means "cool." So I've been researching fairy godmothers, and here's my Lightbulb Momento: Cinderella
Do you know how many girls want to be a princess? Or act like a princess? Or look like a princess? Or want to find out that they are—but never knew they were—a long-lost princess?
One word: Google.
It's not just my little sister, Maddie, who is way pinked out at four and already wearing a tiara. I've found pictures of some pretty old people wearing those things on their heads.
I'm actually more of a green person, but I'm sure a fairy godmother can work with green. She can do chic in any color. More bippity and less boppity or... something like that.
Even with a good wand wave, I still might be a little tiara challenged. (The hair situation.)
Passing on those glass slippers too. I can't really fit in those tiny thingies anyway. My toes? Those shoes? These Chuck Taylor feet?
It's a long story about my big toe. Very ugly.
The toe and the story... maybe Chapter Ten. Remind me.
But, here's the really important what's what:
In the connect-the-dots world of frogs, princesses, and all kinds of fairies—you can include dragons, ogres, and wizards if you want because they are very popular too... especially in movies—a fairy godmother is only one dot away from Cinderella Dot Dot Dot, aha! who actually became a princess, which is very la-di-da, which means chic, which = cool.
The point being, as Mrs. Helferich likes to say when she talks about connecting dots, if it's okay to want to be a princess (and like I said, I've seen some scary pictures of old princesses), then it has to be okay to believe in a fairy godmother.
Especially if you're only almost eleven.
So... Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone. Copyright © by Margie Palatini. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.