In Worst Enemies/Best Friends, Charlotte has moved back to the US after living in Australia, Africa, and most recently, Paris. Charlotte has an unfortunate habit of spectacularly humiliating herself on the first day of school, and her first day of 7th grade proves to be no different. The three girls in Charlotte's assigned lunch group are mortified. They convince their teacher that one sleepover will provide ample time to get to know one another well enough to be allowed to eat with whomever they choose. During the sleepover, they discover that some great friendships can begin in inauspicious ways. They also discover a tower room in Charlotte's house, which they designate as their headquarters. What Charlotte has not told them is that the house does not belong to her family, and that their mysterious landlady has forbidden them to use a room without permission. If this omission is discovered, it spells disaster for the Beacon Street Girls' friendship! Despite the obstacles faced in the first book, the Beacon Street Girls are going strong in Bad News/Good News. Charlotte is beginning to feel as though she finally has a place to call home, until she overhears her father talking on the phone about moving to Oxford. Charlotte is distressed, but she quickly resigns herself to the move. However, the other Beacon Street Girls will have none of it. They are determined to convince Charlotte's father not to move. Unfortunately a new girl shows up, and her presence divides the group straight down the middle, threatening to divide the BSG forever. These two gentle books were written specifically with junior high school girls in mind. The four girls are the standard adolescent charactersone might expect to find: Avery is an athlete, Katani is a fashion maven, Maeve is a drama queen, and Charlotte is a dreamy writer. Despite their differences (or because of them) the girls naturally become fast friends. Add in a good healthy dose of lunchroom humiliation, physical comedy, a secret room, and a group of gals with goals, and you have one fun and harmless new series. (Beacon Street Girls). KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2004, B*tween Productions, 277p., each. Ages 12 to 15.
With a wink and a blink four between-aged-girls, or is that five, are at it again in this second book from the "Beacon Street Girls" series. Readers of the first book won't miss a beat if they pick up and enjoy this book. While the beginning seems a bit slow because of the back matter needed for readers who did not read the first book, it appears to actually push the book to a better level since it helps readers understand why the girls act as they do individually. Again, the author handles changes in perspective well and readers should be able to feel close to any of the girls. This is not a book of all fun and games as characters experience an emotional roller coaster that is expected of "betweeners." Issues revolve around boys, school, and life in general. But they go deeper than that when learning disabilities, social concerns, parental illness, and parental grief are woven into the book. Strong adult characters do not tell the girls what to do or think. Instead they allow the girls to think for themselves and grow with that responsibility. Readers are shown the gut-wrenching reality that comes with arguing, cliques, change, open-mindedness, and edginess. Computer chat rooms involving the girls offer appeal to this age group. Diversity of characters plays well and demonstrates how differences can work out in real life. As with the first book, end activities include questions for friends to talk about, a quiz for comprehension, and a web address offering "fun stuff for everyone." 2005, B*tween Productions, Ages 8 to 14.
Nancy Garhan Attebury
Gr 5-8-This series features a multicultural group of junior high girls in Brookline, MA. Charlotte and her widowed father are new in town, and they have lived all over the world. Katani has a flair for design. Korean-born Avery, a no-frills type of girl, in the literal sense of the word, was adopted when she was an infant. Maeve is a drama queen and dreams of stardom. In Bad News/Good News, Charlotte discovers that her father is considering an offer to teach at Oxford in England and she wants to stay put for a while. The episode centers on how the girls come to her rescue, how she learns to deal with her own ambivalent feelings about the move, and how she comes to better understand her father and his grief. A subplot introduces Isabel, who has come to Brookline with her ailing mother. She will become the newest member of the Beacon Street Girls. In Letters, Maeve learns that her parents are separating. Although she struggles with dyslexia, she is certain that she can keep them together if she can just learn to be the "perfect" daughter her mother so desperately wants. She learns some valuable lessons about herself, and about the real meaning-and sometimes real pain-of growing up. The stories are well written and should have broad appeal. If there is a fault at all, it is that the characters are sometimes more mature, self-aware, or articulate than the average seventh grader. Nevertheless, the lessons about loyalty, honesty, friendship, and family are presented in an appealing fashion.-Roxanne Burg, Orange County Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.