cover image The Friendship War

The Friendship War

Andrew Clements. Random House, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-399-55759-0

In the latest on-point school story by Clements (The Losers Club), compulsive collector Grace is thrilled when her grandfather says she can keep the 27 boxes of buttons she discovers in his old mill. But after she shares some of the cache with her classmates, the show-and-tell spirals out of control, and kids schoolwide become obsessed with collecting and trading buttons. A math and science whiz, Grace becomes fixated on “collecting data” by counting the buttons on all her schoolmates’ clothing, and eventually comes to the obvious conclusion that she and her peers have contracted “button fever.” Though painstaking details of button swapping weigh down the narrative, Clements uses the over-the-top fad as a conduit to explore more substantial themes, including Grace’s conflicted feelings about her superficial, know-it-all best friend; her deepening friendship with an insightful boy; and her affecting bond with her grandfather, who, like her, is mourning his wife’s death. Regretting the frenzy she instigated, Grace applies the theory of supply and demand in a bold move to end it, precipitating a rewarding finale that underscores the value of friends and family—and wryly reveals the limitations of the scientific method. Ages 8–12. Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. [em](Jan.) [/em]