cover image Hands Around Lincoln School

Hands Around Lincoln School

Frank Asch. Scholastic, $13.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-44149-0

Amy, age 12, is particularly shy around Tony, a new student who wants to impress ``the cool clique.'' When her activist friend Lindsay is falsely accused of defacing school property, she suspects that a vindictive someone from the popular crowd could be responsible. She asks Amy to infiltrate the group via Tony, who has shown interest in her. Amy's loyalty is ultimately challenged, however, and her friendship with Lindsay nearly destroyed. Asch's didacticism on social and environmental issues often reaches strident proportions, and what seems a wistful nostalgia for the 1960s becomes a bit much; Lindsay, for example, flashes the peace sign, and sidekicks spout variations of ``groovy.'' Insights can be as shallow as ``But as a member of the cool clique, anything Mark did was automatically cool,'' while Amy's ``Drugs are what killed the hippie movement'' seems unlikely from a modern-day sixth grader. Amy's fine sense of humor is apparent, though, and her frank narration helps salvage this wordy novel. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)