Family dynamics, friendship tangles, and finding one’s voice are among the topics Weston (the Melanie Martin novels) deftly juggles in this diary-style series debut. Fifth-grade narrator Ava begins by sharing her discovery that her “word nerd” family’s names are all palindromes: Mom is Anna, Dad is Bob, and her seventh-grader sister is Pip. Outgoing and candid, Ava resents that her parents dote on moody loner Pip: “I always end up feeling mad at her and bad for her at the same time.” After the girls invited to Pip’s birthday sleepover cancel to attend the girl-boy party thrown by Pip’s new classmate Bea, Ava enters a writing contest with a story about a thinly veiled “Queen Bee.” Rather than send the story in a mean-girl direction, Weston has Bea forgive Ava, and the two team up to help Pip overcome her shyness, helping deliver messages about prejudging others and being careful what one puts in print. Generous samplings of palindromes, similes, and a running emphasis on creative writing will excite readers who share Ava’s affinity for wordplay. Ages 10–up. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/20/2014 Release date: 03/04/2014 Genre: Children's
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