cover image Can You Get an F in Lunch?

Can You Get an F in Lunch?

Nancy Krulik, . . Scholastic, $3.99 (101pp) ISBN 978-0-439-02555-3

Krulik (the Katie Kazoo Switcheroo series) treads on tried-and-true turf in the first installment of the How I Survived Middle School series, but does so credibly and affectingly. Having read the middle school handbook cover-to-cover, likable narrator Jenny arrives on the first day of sixth grade confident that she knows the ropes. And she's wearing a t-shirt from the sleepaway camp she attended over the summer—how cool is that? Not in the slightest, she realizes, as she spies her best friend Addie sporting a stylish, sophisticated outfit (“Middle School Rule #1: A big green t-shirt with a lizard on the front is not mature”). Things go downhill from there: searching for the cafeteria, she gets “punked” by eighth-graders who give her directions to a nonexistent elevator, and she eats the lunch she's brought from home (another faux pas) in a phone booth while pretending to chat on the phone after Addie abandons her for the popular crowd. Readers will cringe at—and sympathize with—Jenny as her earnest attempts to fit in with Addie's new gang fail miserably. But a group of warm, independent-minded kids befriend her, raising her spirits and self-esteem and helping her gain perspective on Addie's snobby, superficial clique. Also guiding Jenny through the middle school quagmire is a Web site she discovers,, which contains school- and friend-related quizzes (Scholastic will supply an actual Web site at this address). Jenny and Addie vie for the class presidency in Madame President , due out this month as well. Ages 9-12. (June)