I’m posting yet another Randa Abdel-Fattah book that my mom stumbled upon and sent me 10 copies to do for our Book Club. I didn’t love the book, but it is clean and brings up the issue of bullying, friendship and honesty. So, I’ve decided to do a 3rd- 5th grade Jr. Book Club and use it as a starting point to discuss this critical social realms that they are facing. The book is a 4.4 Accelerated Reader level and has no Muslim characters or themes.
This book is the second in the series, and, thankfully, having not read the first book, The Friendship Matchmaker, didn’t hinder my understanding. Told from the perspective of Lara Zany, a former friendship matchmaker of Potts Middle School, the reader gets to know the major characters at the school and their problems. Lara now has a best friend and has retired from the matchmaking business, but old habits are hard to kick, and as a new student from Somali out plays the school bully in soccer, Lara is forced to go undercover to help her classmates.
WHY I LIKE IT:
The book doesn’t stand out in the genre, but it is fun because I think 3rd through 5th graders deal with everything in the book, every day. The book shows restraint where a lot of books over do it. The characters show growth, they aren’t disrespectful and they aren’t all painted with a simplistic brush stroke. The bully has redeeming qualities and no one is perfect or hopeless.
The book is clean in regards to violence, relationships, and language. The only concern I have is there are two major instances where the characters lie, and there are no consequences. The smaller breaches of honesty the characters in some way or another must own up to, but there are two scenarios: a forged field trip signature, and an untruthful excuse given for being late to class, that rubbed me the wrong way. Before allowing students to check it out for the purposes of Book Club, I sent a note to the parents with these two concerns and left it to them to encourage or discourage their student’s from checking it out. My goal is to discuss why the author included these in the book, and realistic alternatives that would promote honesty, but still allow for a happy ending.