It's a new school year, and Izzy Kline is having some feelings. There are plenty of reasons for the butterflies in her stomach to flap their wings. There’s a new girl in her class who might be a new best friend. The whole grade is performing Free to Be . . . You and Me—and Izzy really wants a starring role. And new changes at home are making Izzy feel like her family is falling apart. First-day jitters, new friends, an audition . . . How many butterfly problems can one kid take?
Izzy is wary of starting fourth grade and anxious about everything-- her parents' divorce, her older brother's pierced tongue and emotional distance, her friends at school.There are annoying boys, a class play (based on Free To Be...You and Me), and a best friend with a potentially serious health issue. Izzy manages to navigate these issues in a realistic way as the year progresses.
Novels in verse are a good way to offer impressions of events, and are frequently a good choice for classroom read alouds. I can see this being used as a springboard for discussions on a variety of topics. What should fourth graders know about divorced parents? Sick friends? Siblings who are maturing? Feeling anxious? Fourth grade is always a hot bed of friendship drama, with girls being mean to each other, children having first crushes, and girls and boys trying to get along despite different ways of reacting to situations. School projects also can be interesting and frightening at the same time, and acting in a play can be both exhilarating and frightening.
There are a growing number of novels in verse for younger reads, such as Shovan's The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary and Sternberg's Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. The verse isn't formulaic like Helen Frost's work, but still manages to be poetic and emotionally evocative. This was also thematically reminiscent of Linda Urban's work or Barbara O'Connor's Wish.