How to Be Popular
Meg Cabot, . . HarperTempest, $16.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-06-088012-5
Steph Landry is tired of being unpopular ("If anyone in school does anything remotely crack-headed or dorky, people are all, 'Don't pull a Steph!' "). After she discovers an old guide to popularity, she resolves to improve her status. She buys a new wardrobe, organizes a school fundraiser and smiles a lot. The plot is entertaining, if predictable: Steph quickly rises to the top, even forming a friendship with her cute crush. But along the way she strains her relationship with her best friend and neighbor, Jason—and slowly sees that life at the pinnacle is not all it seems. Readers may have trouble believing that the heroine's sixth-grade faux pas would warrant the long-term wrath of the school's queen bee (Steph accidentally spilled her Big Red Super Big Gulp on Lauren's designer skirt in front of the whole cafeteria). But the characters and dialogue come across as genuine and funny. Readers will likely find the antiquated advice from the popularity book hilarious ("People are drawn to those who have the ability to make them feel excited whether about a car wash, a weenie roast, or a sock hop!"). Steph realizes there is some truth to it, though, even if what the book really helped her do was figure out how she feels about Jason. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 08/07/2006