Best Friend Next Door

Best Friend Next Door
Age Range
Release Date
May 26, 2015
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Meet Hannah. Her name is a palindrome. Her birthday is on New Year’s. She wishes she had a cat. She’s medium height and a little awkward. Her life has NOT been fun lately -- her dad and stepmom are having a baby and, worst of all, her best friend next door just moved away. Now a new girl is here, taking over her best friend’s bedroom . . . and her own identity. Meet Emme. Her name is a palindrome. Her birthday is on New Year’s. She loves her enormous orange cat. She’s so short that last week she was mistaken for a kindergartner. She’s found moving hard . . . but at least there’s the girl next door, Hannah. Maybe they’ll become friends? While Hannah and Emme are alike in so many ways, they’re also different in some wrong ways, too. Is this the perfect friendship . . . or a recipe for disaster? From award-winning writer Carolyn Mackler comes a funny, smart story about finding out who your best friends are, in good times and bad.

Editor review

1 review
Small changes can seem so big
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Hannah is sad when her best friend Sophie moves to Canada, and she's not happy when the girl who moves in next door is wearing the same shirt she has on, has the same birthday, and likes peanut butter but hates pizza! In addition to missing her best friend, Hannah is upset because her step mom, Margo, who is soon adopting her, is having a baby. Emme isn't happy about moving from a warm island to a cold, landlocked place, and she's unhappy when her cat Butterball goes missing... and ends up at Hannah's house. When school starts, Hannah's year is going smoothly, but Emme is stuck with a difficult teacher as well as mean girls in her class. Eventually, Hannah and Emme become friends because they both love to swim and embrace their differences. Hannah is instrumental in telling Emme's two mothers about Emme's difficulties at school, which results in Emme being moved to another class. The two have their ups and downs, especially when they go to winter camp with Sophie, and Emme and Sophie hit it off, much to Hannah's consternation. Fifth grade is a difficult year, with lots of drama, but in the end, the girls end up even better friends.

There's some bullying in this, but it is done in a realistic way. Mean girls in Emme's class make fun of her because she's small, but always in a joking way, quietly and behind the teacher's back. There's even an anti-bullying assembly; those are a real thing, although I doubt they do any good at all. The fact that Emme has two mother's is very matter of fact, and Hannah's difficulty in accepting the new baby is realistic for this age group. It’s great to see realistically portrayed characters, and this seemed very true-to-life to me.

It was also nice that this was generally upbeat. There are a few sad moments (Butterball becomes ill for a brief time), but nothing that will depress middle grade readers, which is fantastic!

Fans of Leslie Margolis, Lisa Papdemetriou, Naylor’s The Agony of Alice and Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik will enjoy this amusing story of cats, friendships, and the small changes that can seem so big to elementary aged readers.

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