cover image SELF-PORTRAIT


Jeanne Betancourt, Author . Scholastic $4.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0

Betancourt (the Pony Pals series) launches the Three Girls in the City series with this pleasant if predictable tale introducing a trio of teens who meet while taking a summer photography workshop in Manhattan. Shy, sensitive Carolyn has recently moved to the city from rural Wyoming with her father, an entomologist working on a special project at a museum. Maya, outgoing, self-confident and attractive, lives in Harlem with her close-knit family. Sarcastic and aloof, Joy splits her time between her mother's Upper East Side home and the downtown digs her father shares with his second wife and their young son, for whom Joy is frequently recruited to baby-sit. Reluctant partners in a photography project, the three gradually become friends and support one another as each grapples with her individual issues (Carolyn misses her recently deceased mother and resents her father's overprotective ways; Joy struggles with poor body image and the demands of juggling the two parts of her family; and Maya feels caught between her neighborhood friends and her new ones). Betancourt shapes distinct, credible voices as her narrative smoothly shifts perspectives among the three principals and gently contrasts their developmental differences. Details about the girls' respective takes on their various photography assignments injects some added dimension. Exposed, the series' second installment, is due in October. Ages 8-12. (June)