cover image Best Friend Next Door

Best Friend Next Door

Carolyn Mackler. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-545-70944-6

Hannah faces some emotional earthquakes in the waning weeks of the summer before fifth grade in this chipper, funny novel that explores the loyalties of family and friends. Things are bad enough now that Hannah's best friend and next-door neighbor, Sophie, has moved to Canada. Then Hannah's father and stepmother announce that they are expecting a baby, and a new family quickly moves into Sophie's house. When Hannah sees a girl arrive next door (wearing the exact tie-dye shirt Hannah is wearing!), she is determined not to like her. That proves impossible after Hannah meets Emme and learns that they share a birthday and a love of palindromes, peanut butter, and swimming, among other things. In her first book for middle-graders, Mackler (The Future of Us) warmly depicts the ebb and flow of this duo's relationship in alternating chapters narrated by each girl. Emme's two mothers and Hannah's parents form a supportive team during their daughters' first school year together; readers will enjoy spending time with this memorable pair as they, their friendship, and their families grow and change. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (May)