The Only Girl in School

Natalie Standiford, illus. by Nathan Durfee. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-545-82996-0
There's a lot going on in this slim novel about Claire Warren, who starts fifth grade as the only girl at her small island school. She recounts the mostly depressing events of the year—being pummeled at dodgeball, ostracized in the lunchroom, bullied by both soccer opponents and her own teammates—through letters to her best friend, Bess, who has recently left their Maryland island for California. There is also an attempt to sabotage Claire's boat before the annual regatta and a mystery involving Smuggler Joe, who haunts Foyes Island to guard his secretly buried treasure (Claire's letters are accented with "taped-in" cartoons from Durfee that humorously track her ups and downs). The story nearly leaves the rails with an unexplained supernatural element, but Standiford (Switched at Birthday) moves on quickly, and by graduation, Claire has earned some hard-won victories. It's a measure of how grim the year has been that the note of hope on which Claire's story ends involves moving on to middle school, where there will, at least, be some other girls. Ages 8–12. Author's agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/09/2015
Release date: 01/26/2016
Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-545-82998-4
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