My Last Best Friend

Julie Bowe, Author . Harcourt $16 (146p) ISBN 978-0-15-205777-0

S tarting fourth grade is a lonely business for Ida May since Elizabeth, her “last best friend,” moved away. To make things worse, mean Jenna Drews, daughter of the PTA president, is making Ida’s life miserable by taunting Ida every chance she gets. Ida wishes that she could find a new best friend in Stacey Merriweather, a girl with a “big-crayon” smile, who has just moved to town. But part of Ida fears that if she gets close to Stacey, the girl might disappear just as Elizabeth did (“Trust me, you don’t want to get too close to big-crayon smiles. That’s because people with big-crayon smiles don’t stick around very long,” Ida laments). In this heartfelt, slice-of-life story, first-time novelist Bowe explores both the uncertainties and rewards of friendship as she traces her wistful heroine’s first few weeks of school. Ida’s hurt at being bullied by Jenna is skillfully evoked, but what readers will feel most strongly is Ida’s yearning to share simple pleasures like “Messy art projects. Corny jokes.” and “Mild cheddar cheese” with someone special, who likes her just for who she is. Throughout the novel, Ida cautiously approaches Stacey, using anonymous notes as a vehicle to introduce herself to the newcomer. Stacey’s replies to the secret messages reveal that she has told some “emergency” lies about her living situation and may have to leave town soon, just as Ida has feared. If the book’s resolution is a little too tidy, Bowe’s characters emerge fully formed. Ida embodies the universal longing to connect with a kindred spirit. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/23/2007
Release date: 04/01/2007
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-0-15-206197-5
Open Ebook - 160 pages - 978-0-547-54265-2
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