Review Detail

Classroom-centric shenanigans
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Beatrice calls a meeting of Operation Upside with her friends Sam and Lenny, and they decide what the newest awards will be. Beatrice is wary, because her awards have gotten her into trouble in the past, so when she wants to present Sam with one, she is worried that Lenny might not approve. There are problems with another award as well-- Lenny wants to give one to Chloe for "Most Brave", but when she sneaks into Chloe's pretend vet clinic, she sees an Upside award already posted, for Best Vet! Of course,Beatrice has to investigate, but she is soon getting herself into trouble at school. Her parents, who are well used to her shenanigans, ask that she scale things back, and even take away her ninja suit. Still, the mystery must be solved, and the careful dynamics of elementary friendships must be preserved if Beatrice is to remain friends with Lenny as well as newcomer Sam.
Good Points
This is an excellent chapter book for readers who have read all of Parks' Junie B. Jones books and are a little older than Junie; second through fourth grade would be the sweet spot for this. Beatrice is very energetic, interested in break dancing, and finds it hard to sit still in school. The episode where she is determined to make it through class without getting three marks against her is very indicative of her personality, and even though she tries very hard to behave herself, it just isn't in her nature to do so. Young readers enjoy characters who sometimes get into trouble, and adults enjoy those books if the character is well meaning.

Friendship problems are different in elementary school than they are in middle school, and I enjoyed how this book was very classroom-centric, and how the girls interacted with many different classmates. They suspect several of them for various reasons, like Wes and his scented magic markers, but are never mean in their interactions. They think through who might have had motive and means for creating and presenting the certificate, and work to solve the mystery.

The adults in the book are also well represented; when Beatrice makes the poor decision to investigate instead of getting on her bus to go home, we see the concern for her well being demonstrated by her parents, and I particularly liked how the principal works with Beatrice to make her understand how the school is concerned with her safety.

Readers who are big fans of Judy Moody, Ivy and Bean, Brown's Lola Levine, Mills Franklin School Friends and English's Carver Chronicles will enjoy Beatrice's exuberant antics as she tries to navigate through school and relationships with friends.
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