Boy training? Easy.
Catty mean girls?
Children's Literature - Jennifer MorrinUpon first glance at its title, a prospective reader might shy away from this novel. Yet Leslie Margolis poignantly captures the ebb and flow of junior high through descriptive, realistic writing. Being the new kid is never easy, but in her two months at Birchwood Middle School, Annabelle Stevens has managed to make girlfriends, tolerate immature boys, and even adjust to life cohabitating with her mom's boyfriend. But all of these challenges pale in comparison to her newest obstacle, Taylor "Terrible T" Stansfield. Like any female bully, Taylor's sole mission in life seems to be damaging other, less popular girls' self-esteem. In addition to daily encounters with Taylor and her clique, Annabelle must simultaneously cope with embarrassing adolescent rites of passage, including leg shaving lessons from her mom, mall bra fittings, and an inexplicable crush on her soon-to-be stepbrother! Humorous and moving, this honest story is much more authentic than its simple title predicts. Reviewer: Jennifer Morrin
School Library JournalGr 4–6—In this well-written sequel to Boys Are Dogs (Bloomsbury, 2008), sixth-grader Annabelle continues to adjust to the changes in her life. She's happy and confident, but she feels a bit unsettled by the catty behavior of her new school's mean-girl clique, Taylor and the Terrible T's. They're expert in being sneaky and putting everyone down, and Annabelle just doesn't know how to handle it. In addition, her mom is getting married, and Annabelle's new stepbrother-to-be is so handsome that she can't help but have a crush on him. Margolis handles Annabelle's minor crises with sensitivity and humor, whether describing her first experience shaving her legs, buying her first bra, or standing up for herself even when it means losing a friend. A good addition to collections where the first book is popular, as well as an appealing stand-alone.—Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY
Kirkus ReviewsOn the heels of Boys Are Dogs (2008), in which sixth grader Annabelle learned to control negative boy behavior with dog-training tips, comes this sequel, in which she discovers that girls can be very catty. Taylor and her entourage are a particular problem: They're the "populars," who all but terrorize the just-average girls who make up the majority of their junior high school. Inexplicably, given that Annabelle has come from an all-girls school, this cattiness is a new discovery for her, as she walks a fine line between earning Taylor's ire and alienating her true friends. Secondary issues include her mom's upcoming (and first) marriage and her future stepfather's hunky son's moving in, inspiring a serious crush. This average effort lacks the ironic humor of Annabelle's first outing with its useful dog (boy) manual advice. Annabelle's first-person voice rings true enough, but all others are stock characters, and the outcome is predictable. While an important topic, it has been covered innumerable times, and there's no new insight here. Purchase if Annabelle's first appearance was a hit. (Fiction. 9-13)
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