Oh the trauma of first kisses, crushes and co-ed convos. Izzy and Annie lose their ability to speak around boys. So they start Flirt Club, a secret society of equally distressed buds to help each other out, landing some hilarious and touching results.” Girls' Life
“Told through very funny notes to each other, journal entries, and minutes from Flirt Club meetings, Daly's debut sparkles with wit, and her protagonists brim with enthusiasm and heart.” Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Told through a series of notes, journal entries, and minutes from Flirt Club meetings, Daly's tale of the (mis)adventures of a pair of self-professed drama dorks is a warm and funny portrait of the ups and downs of middle school life.” The Horn Book
“The girls' friendships are authentic and the situations are definitely on target for middle schoolers.” School Library Journal
“With a pleasing blend of genuine warmth and witty banter, Daly gets the tone just right as she offers up a nice counterbalance to the typical mean-girl story, focusing more on the candid affection between Annie and Izzy than on junior-high dramatics.” The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Told through the girls' locker notes, lists, and journal entries, this entertaining read features peppy prose, humor, and on-target issues, such as dealing with insecurities, heartbreak, mean girls, and physical-relationship pressures.” Booklist
“Just the ticket for preadolescent girls.” Kirkus Reviews
Isabelle and Annie are two self-professed middle–school drama geeks who have no idea how to flirt with boyssuccessfully. Their sweet, awkward, and painful attempts at romance are getting them nowhere, so they start Flirt Club, an after–school support group for similarly afflicted friends who decide to take decisive and strategic action.
Oh the trauma of first kisses, crushes and co-ed convos. Izzy and Annie lose their ability to speak around boys. So they start Flirt Club, a secret society of equally distressed buds to help each other out, landing some hilarious and touching results.” Girls' Life
Eighth-graders Annie (aka the Bean aka Secret Agent 66) and Izzie (aka Cisco aka Secret Agent 88) are best friends, and they share an exciting, mysterious, if at times aggravating interest: boys. Neither has much experience with the male species, so they start Flirt Club, a two-person group (at first) devoted to mastering the art of boy catching ("et's see if we can adopt identities that don't clam up, blush, stutter, sputter, and basically run away and die around boys," writes the Bean). Told through very funny notes to each other, journal entries, and minutes from Flirt Club meetings, Daly's debut sparkles with wit, and her protagonists brim with enthusiasm and heart. This duo will endear readers with their nonstop goofball humor and boisterous personalities as they suffer being cast as "corn" in the school production of Joseph, among other theater-related slights, and struggle to hang onto each other as boys finally do enter and shake up their worlds. It's refreshing to see these girls counter middle-school drama with silliness rather than angst and hand-wringing. As Cisco and the Bean would say, "Thank God for being weird." Ages 12–up. (Jan.)
Gr 5–7—Best friends Izzy and Annie are trying to survive the horrors of middle school, and the fact that they are drama and choir geeks is not helping the situation. Neither has ever had a boyfriend, but crushes abound as they decide to start Flirt Club and figure out what they are doing wrong in this department. Other girls join the after-school support group and a tight bond forms as they all watch, learn, and attempt to understand the male species. However, dating goes south with cheating boyfriends, crushes liking another friend, and multiple boys chasing one girl. Told in journal entries and notes back and forth, mostly Izzy's and Annie's, the conversations are filled with quirky, silly exchanges that mirror one another so closely that it's difficult to tell the characters apart. It does not help that they start using code names, Cisco and The Bean, in the first note. References to bands and songs that only an older generation would really know (Hot Chocolate!) can make readers feel as though they are missing out on the joke. The dialogue also seems to bend to the far side of goofy and childish; calling each other pet names like "pork chop" and referencing bowel movements as Elvis will induce either eye-rolling or spontaneous giggles. However, the girls' friendships are authentic and the situations are definitely on target for middle schoolers. An additional purchase for those who understand what it is like to be socially unsure and are okay with that.—Mariela Siegert, Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale, IL
Two eighth-grade girls struggle with shyness but yearn to connect with boys in this epistolary novel. Annie, known as "Bean," and her BFF Izzy, known as "Cisco," write notes to each other all day at school, deciding to research the problem in their new, super-secret, two-member "flirt club." The two girls blossom when they become involved in drama and take parts in the school musical. Izzy gets a real catch of a boyfriend, but what will she do if he wants her to eat lunch with him at the popular table instead of with her very best friend? Somehow you know it will all turn out just fine in this easy jaunt through the middle-school–female mind. Writing in language every bit as excitable as her characters, debut author Daly uses notes and diaries to follow the two girls through a year of turmoil, laughter, misunderstandings, embarrassments, triumphs and fun. By the end of the book, they've grown from little girls to young teens, but their friendship conquers all. Just the ticket for preadolescent girls. (Fiction. 10-13)
Read an Excerpt
Wherein Cisco and the Bean Decide They Are Actually International Secret Agents and Start FLIRT CLUB
Well, it turns out 8th-grade math is just as breathtaking and exciting as 7th-grade math. (NOT!) My math teacher, Mrs. Heinick, is a rover, so I have to write you in spurts and spasms . . . She likes to stroll down the aisles real slow—she’s like a silent hovercraft or some scary sci-fi phenomenon . . . like a big floating eyeball with teeth. She thinks I’m doing Algebra—HA-HA-HA-HA. I keep furrowing my eyebrows to look like I’m deep in thought. A mathematical genius at work. Yeah, right. Numbers are not my friends. Words ARE my friends. You are my friend. Food from the school snack bar is not my friend. Hello Kitty backpacks are not my friend. Jeannie Mateo in front of me has one on right now. It’s one of those plastic, tiny useless ones, and she doesn’t take it off during class so I have to stare at plastic kitty face. I have the urge to lean forward and pat Jeannie’s shiny, cute little backpack and go “Hello Kitty, Hello Kitty” over and over . . . She’d probably slap my hand away like it was the plague. Oh my gosh, remember that song we wrote called “I Have the Plague” last year? How’d it go?
8th grade is kinda weird, huh? For one thing, the fact that we don’t have ANY classes together is tragic . . . my heart will break and fall out of the bottom of my shoes in little shattered pieces of brown glass. Why brown glass you ask? I do not know. I’m gonna slip this note in your locker; write me back AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT OR I WILL EXPLODE. Actually, I probably won’t explode, I’ll probably implode. A whole different matter entirely.
Hi, I’m back, I actually had to do some math ’cause the hovering eyeball, aka Mrs. Heinick, just floated by.
Flower Day is next Wednesday.
Who created such an implement of torture is what I want to know. They had it when my sister went here. Probably the grown-up who came up with the idea was cute and popular when they were young and never thought about the kids who DON’T get any flowers sent to them. They didn’t think about the kids who have to walk through the halls empty-handed. Grasping books instead of armfuls of flowers. Ugh. Are you sending anyone a flower? I may send Enrique Alvarez one; he’s as cute as a bug and he’s my lab partner in science ~ we share a microscope. I’m always compelled to look at his ear when he’s looking into the microscope . . . occasionally I get bold and look at his mouth or cheek, but mostly I stick to the ear. And it’s a charmer, that ear of his. If I send him a flower, I may have to sign a fake name on the card, because I could NEVER face him again if he knows I sent it. Maybe I could just sign my initials . . . or a completely made-up name, a man’s name even, like “Bob Williams” or something. I could say, “Enrique, keep up the excellent schoolwork, stay cute. Love, Bob Williams.” Or MAYBE I could sign it “Bean” since no one knows I’m the Bean but you. They think my name is Annie Myers and yours is Izzy Mercer-Crow, the fools!
WRITE ME BACK!!
P.S. Nice overalls.
P.P.S. Did you get the picture I left in your locker? Thank Gump we are sharing lockers again—mine is ridiculously far from all of my classes.
I’m sitting in Center Quad. It’s my free period (I wish we had ours together!!), so I can totally devote myself to writing you. Chris Jordasch turned around in French and asked if we were twins or sisters ’cause we were wearing matching overalls and T-shirts. I said, “No, we just like to match.” He just stared at me, raised his eyebrows, and turned back around. With a silence that spoke a thousand deadly words! The cheerleaders wear matching outfits and no one blinks twice. Of course they shake their booties a lot and present their bosoms in those tight sweaters like their bosoms are a prize pot roast on a platter. Our matching outfits are kind of baggy. Perhaps our next matching outfits should be bosom-presenting outfits. But I’m much too modest for that. “These boobs were made for hiding, and that’s just what they’ll do, one of these days these boobs are gonna walk down to the zoo” (sung to “These Boots” by Nancy Sinatra). WHAT?
GOD SAVE US FROM FLOWER DAY!!!!!!!
I think you should send Enrique Alvarez one . . . just sign your initials, then he might just wonder if it was from you but never really know. You know what we could do? And this would have to be our deepest, darkest secret that we take to our DEATHBEDS!!!!!! But, we could both send each other a bunch of flowers and not sign the cards. I could probably afford to buy you 5 (they’re $1.00 each, for a carnation). I send you 5 and you send me 5 and no one will ever know. They deliver them in 4th period, right? Just my luck, Madison Geller and Alanna Markley are in my 4th-period class, and they’ll probably get at least 25 flowers each. I heard last year Margaret Ryan got so many she couldn’t carry them all. Oh my God, my stomach hurts just thinking about it. This barbarism has to stop!! (Is “barbarism” a word? You know, like “barbaric”?) Maybe we could have a protest and carry little signs that say “STOP THE MADNESS, DOWN WITH FLOWER DAY!!” Nahhhh . . . we’d be exiled into eternal dorkdom, and I’m just not prepared for that fate. I wish I had the courage to do something like that, but instead let’s just buy each other flowers in a desperate attempt not to be thoroughly humiliated, OK?? I mean, I guess Flower Day is a tiny, tiny bit exciting because there is the tiniest possibility that we will actually get some from someone we like, or a secret admirer or something. The teeniest, teeniest, tiniest (is that a word?) possibility. You SHOULD get a bunch ’cause you’re so smart and funny and adorable and the best girl in the world.
(I think we should ENTIRELY desist in putting our real names on these notes from now on, the subject matter is too top secret, yes?)
P.S. I will deposit this note in your locker immediately, PLEASE DO NOT EXPLODE OR IMPLODE or expire in ANY WAY or I will shrivel up like those apple-head dolls we had to make in 3rd grade in Ms. Werner’s class. Please write me back promptly upon receival (now I KNOW that’s not a word ~ I just made it up), but don’t do it during Spanish or Señor Snyder will catch you and whip you with a tortilla.
P.P.S. Muchas amor, mi amiga la cantina y sopa de banyo! (I just made that up, what did I say?) Please translate señorita, gracias.
P.P.P.S. Please DESTROY this note when you are done.
P.P.P.P.S. I LOVE your Cisco and the Bean collage. I will make one for you.
P.P.P.P.P.S. Nice overalls.
I’m sitting here bored out of my skull in Spanish class. I wish he WOULD whip me with a tortilla. I wish SOMETHING interesting would happen in this class. But alas, Mr. Snyder is much too mild mannered. Too bad Antonio Banderas is not my Spanish teacher, sí? He’s a tub of spicy salsa if I ever saw one. OK THEN, it’s settled . . . I buy you 5 flowers and you buy me 5—I think we can fit that into our fiscal budget. My bowels are relaxing as we speak (well, as I write). Is there any way this fine plan we are crafting can backfire? I mean, what if people find out about our covert Flower Day operation? If they catch on to our high-security, undercover, super-secret-agent-girl plan to send each other flowers, our lives are over at Wilbur Middle School, over IN A FLASH. Maybe we should sign some of the cards . . . just initials or a general friendly statement . . . maybe like “glad you’re in my science class” or something? Or, I don’t know, maybe “You’re nice, you’re sweet, here’s to hoping that soon we’ll meet.” Forgive me. That’s SOOO corny. I am such a dork . . . oh well. So what? So what, chicken butt?
Can you believe Cathy Greenwood at lunch? I LOVE our matching Shiva the Hindu God lunch boxes. Why does she talk to us now with that petulant, disturbed tone in her voice like she’s just discovered caca on her blindingly white cheerleading sneakers? And what about when she goes, “Who’s that on the front of them?” and we go “Shiva”. . . and she furrowed her pretty little brow and goes, “You guys are like super Jewish, aren’t you?”
And then she swishes her barely-covered-with-a-cheerleading-skirt bottom away from us. Was she confusing her world religions? Was she being anti-Semitic? Was her brain removed by aliens and replaced by luncheon meat? I KNOW Cathy Greenwood is smart, she’s been in honors classes with both of us for 2 years. So, what’s her story? God save us from Robot Cheerleaders. God save us from Flower Day. I bet Cathy Greenwood will get about 55 flowers, eh??
OK Secret Agent no. 88, I’ve got to sign off before Señor Snyder discovers I am not really an 8th-grade student but a spy for an underground organization of international oddballs. Destroy this message as soon as you read it, preferably by eating it.
Dearest Secret Agent Bean,
Don’t sign your real name! Remember when Grant Carson found that note I wrote you in 6th grade about my training bra and how I wondered what my breasts were being trained for? And he read it to his whole lunch table? I did not eat your last note, but I did destroy it with my special laser made especially for incinerating top-secret documents. Yes, let’s sign something on our flower cards; no one will actually read them except us. That way, when they deliver the flowers, our little charade will look more real ’cause we can sit and read our cards . . . perhaps with a pleased little smile dancing upon our lips? (Have I been reading too much Jane Austen?) Or maybe a little knowing smile dancing upon our lips. Which do you think, a pleased smile or a knowing smile? Or how about a pleased AND knowing smile? Then again, what about a fiendishly delighted grin with a little drool dangling ever so delicately out of one corner of my mouth?? Nah, I’m joshing.
You know, it’s hard to tell if Cathy Greenwood was actually being mean or simply clueless; she always has that pouty, petulant thing going on with her lips. She adopted that expression about the same time that her boobs grew in 6th grade . . . why does that kind of haughtiness make certain girls more popular?
And who am I to talk about HER petulant pout?
I’m sitting here trying to decide whether I should fake a pleased smile or a knowing smile when I receive a flower and a card from a FAKE admirer! OH BROTHER! Why do teenage girls feel compelled to do strange things to their faces, twist them up into phony shapes? Does it continue into adulthood? Maybe it starts to feel natural and we can’t tell anymore which of our facial expressions are real and which are fake—we lose track of our face. I hope not. Let’s help each other keep track of our faces, OK? Let’s shake on it.
Oh brother. You know, I realize as I’ve been sitting here writing this note during English (we’re supposed to be writing an essay, I can do it tonight), I’ve been unconsciously trying out all these expressions on my face . . . the pleased little smile, the knowing little smile, the pouty, haughty expression so popular with some of the popular girls. If Mrs. Lucini saw any of it, she probably thinks I’m a wee bit bongo. “Bongo” is my new word for “crazy.” I’ve made up two words today: “receival” and “bongo.” Maybe when I’m a grown-up I can get a job as an official creator of words. Does that exist?
Anyway, I don’t think Cathy Greenwood was trying to be mean, just sort of curious and ignorant … maybe that’s wishful thinking. Remember in 4th grade when we were all friends and we went camping for YMCA summer camp and Cathy sat on a s’more and had melted marshmallow with a graham cracker on top stuck to her butt for, like, 15 minutes and didn’t know it and when we saw it we all laughed so hard I cried and Louisa Burns peed (just a tiny bit) in her pants? Cathy laughed too, harder than anybody. That was fun.
Anyway, things change. Cookies crumble. Boobs grow. Sweaters stretch. Teachers hover. Gotta go. OK, I’ll meet you by yer locker after 7th period.
Cisco aka Secret Agent No. 88
That was fun yesterday—sorry Emmett is such a pain, he’s having a no-TV and no-Internet week as a punishment, so he’s bored and has taken to following me around like some sort of talking dog, like he used to do when he was little. I think he was spying on us ’cause he thinks you’re cute.
OK, I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna send Enrique Alvarez a flower. Yikes. Here’s the thing—they deliver flowers 4th period on Wednesday, and Enrique and I have Science together during 4th period and I sit directly next to him, so I can’t actually sign my name ’cause I would be so embarrassed that my head would shrivel up, fall off my neck, and land in our petri dish to be examined under our microscope. Enrique is so polite and nice, he’d probably just go, “Umm, excuse me, your head fell off, and it’s . . . uh . . . blocking the lens. Can I help you put it back on?” Emmett (little bro from hell) must have heard us discussing the Enrique Alvarez flower dilemma when he was spying on us ’cause at breakfast this morning, he goes to me (in a deep and manly voice with one eyebrow raised), “My name is Ricky Alvarezzzzzzz, come into my midnight abode and we will make beautiful music togetherrrrr”… God save us from Emmett. At least he got Enrique’s name slightly wrong . . . and THANK GOD he doesn’t go to our school, and what the heck is a “midnight abode”??
Oh my Gump, math is so boring. Mrs. Heinick isn’t roving around the aisles today peeking over shoulders ’cause she’s grading a charming little pop quiz she popped on us at the beginning of class. Today Jeannie Mateo has forsaken her Hello Kitty backpack for a soft leopard-skin one, thank God. Though I think she has her cell phone in the back pocket on vibrate ’cause her fuzzy backpack’s making an occasional weird low rumbling sound. Not that I’m a big stickler for rules, but I wish she’d turned her phone completely OFF; it was BUGGING me during the quiz. What if I leaned forward and said, “Um, Jeannie, I really think that cat on your back has a fur ball,” or what if I started casually petting the faux leopard fur? She’d probably screech or have a seizure—but I bet it’d probably be a cute little seizure in which her hair never got mussed and her lip gloss stayed perfectly intact. She is so well groomed and put together it’s astounding. Does she visit the ladies’ room between every class? Or maybe it’s genetic, ’cause no matter what I do to groom, I start to fray at the edges shortly thereafter. I’m pretty much like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoons. But instead of living in a cloud of dirt, I’m eternally surrounded by cat hair, random fuzz, gum wrappers, and little Post-it notes. Not to mention that EACH INDIVIDUAL curly red strand of my hair is on a personal mission (not unlike the USS Enterprise) to discover strange new lands and to go where no man has gone before, which is straight out from my head in a million different directions!
God save me from my own head!
Actually, sitting behind Jeannie Mateo is educational BECAUSE besides being so cutely coiffed, she is a MASTER OF FLIRTING. She flirts nonstop with Scott Broderson, who sits next to us. I am trying to pick up some pointers, some moves, by watching her, because the honest truth is I am a miserable failure as a flirt. I can’t even begin to flirt. In fact, if I think someone’s cute, I can hardly talk to him or look at him much less flirt with him. I mean, all I can do with Enrique Alvarez is stare at his ear. Oh, I’m a charmer all right. Oops, there’s the bell—gotta go.
OK, I’m back—it’s my free period now, so I can finish this in peace.
SO, I think our next undercover, secret-agent-girl operation should be learning how to FLIRT! What do you think, No. 88? We could practice on each other or Emmett (though he might barf) or even my cat. I mean, as secret agents we should be able to adopt and discard identities in the blink of an eye, yes? So, let’s see if we can adopt identities that don’t clam up, blush, stutter, sputter, and basically run away and die around boys. Or at least that’s what I do. Perhaps I’m the one who really needs help. Anyway, let me know what you think. Your opinion is eternally valuable to me, my dearest Cisco, Secret Agent #88.
Write me back if you can, my little pork chop.
The Bean, Agent #66
OK. I’m on board with the undercover learning-to-flirt operation, though I don’t have a CLUE how to BEGIN to flirt, so watch Jeannie Mateo like a hawk to see what she does. She is always going steady with some boy or another, so her techniques must work . . . and of course that being perfectly coiffed and cute thing helps. We’re both cute aren’t we? We just need to learn how to relate to the opposite sex. Was there a course we missed somewhere along the way? Why don’t they teach us things we can USE in school. Like, REALLY use?
OK, good for you for deciding to send Enrique a flower—we can work on the note together if you want this weekend. Monday’s the last day to buy flowers and turn in the cards! HOLY guacamole! This Flower Day thing is slightly torturous (and a wee bit exiting). I just wish I had a crush on someone so I could send them one … hmm, who could I send one to? Of course, I still think Michael Maddix is a STONE FOX, but he’s only going out with the most popular girl in the whole school! Oh well! No use crying over spilled milk!
No use sobbing over a sunken soufflé!
No use frowning over a melted and dripping Popsicle!
No use moping over rancid butter!
No use pouting over a dropped cheeseburger that now has little pieces of dirt and cat hair attached to the cheese!
Maybe I’ll send a flower to one of those really cute popular boys. I could send one to Mick Jones just ’cause he’s SO adorable and swaggery (I know, not a real word). I mean, I’ve never even spoken to him, I’m sure he has NO IDEA who I am, not that I’d sign my name on the card or anything … maybe I’d just write him a little poem. What do you think?
Anyway, I gotta keep this short, ’cause I have to use this free period to finish some homework.
See you at lunch my wild-haired (you have GREAT hair) partner in crime. Maybe we could have our first flirting practice session this Saturday?
aka, Your loving little pork chop
P.S. How much pork could a pork chop chop if a pork chop could chop pork?
Think upon that my friend, think upon that.
OK, cool, come over this weekend and we’ll write our notes for flower day and do our first flirting practice session. I’m excited. I’m tired of being a wallflower. I’ve been jotting down in my notebook observations of Jeannie Mateo flirting with Scott Broderson. Some of them may be too silly or ditsy for us; we could just try some, we’ll see. Observe any flirting you see and jot it down.
Maybe we should start with my cat. That’s about all I can handle. Nelson won’t mind—he’s such a puddle of a cat nothing bothers him. He’s my best friend, after you of course, my true-blue tennis shoe, my darling little pork chop, my sly secret agent, my bindle-doodle-hamster-queen, WHAT? All right, I’m going off the deep end, time to sign off. ’Member when we used to call each other “You big fat bucket full of water”? Thank God for being weird. Can you come over Saturday morning?
P.S. You SHOULD send Mick Jones a flower with a poem! He’ll never know it was you. Do it, do it! I’ll buy one for Enrique on Monday if you buy one for Mick.
Writing Notes for Flower Cards
Flower Card Note (Rejects):
Keep up the excellent schoolwork.
Bob Williams, Esquire
I admire your ear. I also like the rest of you. You are an adorable nugget of a boy.
I was wondering what you had planned for the rest of your life and if perhaps I could join you.
Love, Your Mystery Woman
P.S. Please come to my midnight abode.
How much pork could a pork chop chop
If a pork chop could chop pork?
I have dreamed of your ear for many moons. The way the skin around your eye crinkles when you look into the microscope is like tiny rays of sunlight dancing on my heart.
Dance little rays of light, dance!
The lover of your ear
If you were a microscope, I would be your petri dish.
If you were a pork chop, I would be your applesauce. If you were a flower, I would be a bee.
If you were an ear, I would be a Q-tip.
Mrs. Midnight Abode
Since we are in the midst of our painful adolescence, I cannot reveal my true identity. It also turns out I am an international spy & that is another reason I cannot reveal my identity. I am sorry to send you a flower anonymously, but know this: I love your ear and if circumstances were different, I would invite you to a midnight abode for a secret rendezvous.
Agent Pork Chop
Flower-Card Notes (Keepers):
You are a charming little pork chop.
A Secret Admirer
Dear Mick Jones,
You are a boy to whom all the girls flock
They perch like birds upon the hope
you will look their way.
Will you give them a crumb, a smile a glance
If they wear the right dress will you ask them to
Sitting and preening ignoring the sky
Why do girls forget they can fly?
Text copyright © 2011 by Cathleen Daly