by Crystal Allen
First sentence: “I’m only wearing five braids to school today.”
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Review copy snagged from the ARC shelves at the bookstore.
Content: There’s a bit of mean girl-ness, and bullying, but the language is simple and the story pretty straight-forward. Give it to a strong second grade reader and up.
Fourth grader Mya Tibbs’s elementary school always has a Spirit Week competition right before the fall festival in their small Texas town. It’s always a tough competition, but this year the stakes are higher: VIP seats to the festival. Mya is sure that she and her best friend, Naomi, are going to win. Except they don’t get chosen as partners: Mya is paired with the school bully, Connie. And she won’t trade. Which makes Naomi more than mad, it means that she and Mya are no longer best friends. Period.
But as Spirit Week goes on, Mya realizes that she’s having fun with Connie, and that maybe things aren’t exactly what they seem.
This was such a charming school story. The stakes weren’t high, but a fourth grader, they were high enough. Friendship is important, as is doing something fun and doing it well. And even though the whole pageantry of the Spirit Week felt really implausible (all the people were SO good at everything they did!), I rolled with it. I liked that Mya figured out what a real friend is like, and found out that she could stay true to her interests and herself on her own time line. It was wonderful that the main character was a person of color, as well. It’s a great early chapter book.