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KLIATTCathy Hopkins writes of the comical travails of four English teenagers who are fortunate to have each other as empathetic "mates." The series takes turns highlighting a particular member of the group: Lucy, Izzie, Nesta and TJ. The stories are full of embarrassing situations, which are handled with a great deal of humor. They are all realistic and Hopkins has her finger on the trials and tribulations of this age group. There are moral issues in these books, but Hopkins handles them in a gentle, pleasant manner without pontificating. The characters are likeable, and the plots move quickly. In the Diamond Destiny, it is Nesta who is in the spotlight as she struggles to immerse herself in a charity and make it financially solvent, and naturally, brings her mates along. Of course, along the way there is a boy. In Great Escapes, Lucy becomes the centerpiece. She is initially unable to afford the school trip to Italy, but destiny steps in and she does go abroad. The girls are immersed in Italian culture, or is it just the Italian boys, or the boys on the trip? KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, 198p., Ages 12 to 15.