This Means War!

Ellen Wittlinger, Author . Simon & Schuster $16.99 (211p) ISBN 978-1-4169-7101-6

Fifth-grader Juliet cannot grasp why Lowell doesn't want to be her friend anymore, so when Patsy moves into her neighborhood, she happily befriends the loud, opinionated girl. Lowell seems relieved (“You have a girl to play with, and I have boys. That's how it's supposed to work.... Isn't it?”), but Juliet still feels hurt. When a neighborhood bully proposes a series of competitions between boys and girls, Juliet joins Patsy's team. Even though the tests are increasingly dangerous, readers might be surprised by the intense final face-off. Wittlinger (Parrotfish ) raises many complex gender questions without being heavy-handed: can boys and girls be friends as they get older? Are traditional girl activities like dancing as athletic as stereotypical boy ones like hitting a baseball? Readers will find it easy to root for Juliet, both as she competes and as she sorts out her relationships with sensitive Lowell and the often pushy Patsy. The book's backdrop—an Air Force town during the Cuban Missile Crisis—ratchets up the anxiety and clearly places the children in a critical moment between childhood and the adult world. Ages 10–14. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 03/15/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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