Love, Double Dutch
Kayla does not feel at home in the South, and she certainly doesn't get along with her snooty cousin Sally. It looks like her Jump-off dreams are over.
Hold the phone! Turns out, double Dutch is huge in the South. She and Sally just need to find two more kids for a team. And a routine. And the confidence to stand up to the double Dutch divas who used to be Sally's BFFs. Time to show those Southern belles some Brooklyn attitude!
The meanness, jockeying for social position, and competing over boys that occur in so many of the interactions that tweens have are realistically portrayed. Kayla has a crush on Charlie, but not just because he's cute. She also likes his confidence, and he is undeterred that she is not pink and sparkly like her cousin. There are some sweet scenes, like the one at a school dance, that will definitely appeal to lots of middle grade readers.
The sports details are excellent, and I learned a lot about the different facets of competition, from timed jumps to putting together routines. While it seemed slightly unusual that girls new to the sport would be good quickly enough to travel to a national competition, it makes for an intriguing story line. There was also some information about step-dancing that might intrigue some of my readers, since there are some teams at our high school. Double dutch is not popular in my area, but since so many of my readers like sports books, I think they will enjoy the aspects of jumping that are similar to other sports-- teamwork, grueling practices, and competition.
My least favorite part of the book was probably Kayla's sassy attitude, but it certainly does make an impression on her aunt, cousin and new friends! While it's a bit over the top, she does grow quite a bit over the course of the book, and does learn to get along with others much more effectively.
This first novel is a welcome addition to the body of humorous, realistic sports books and is an excellent purchase for all middle school libraries. Kayla's struggles with family, friends, and teammates will captivate readers, and her love of double dutch might cause some of them to dust off their jump ropes!