cover image Trick or Trouble: 9

Trick or Trouble: 9

Ilene Cooper. Viking Children's Books, $13.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85057-0

Cooper's (The Kids from Kennedy Middle School books) Holiday Five series begins on an entertaining, if not exceptional note with this sitcom-ish, intermittently realistic story. After being named the best all-around camper at Camp Wildwood, 12-year-old Lia returns to her suburban Chicago neighborhood, where she is pretty much ignored by the ``in'' group at school. Her one good friend, next-door neighbor Scott, has grown newly attractive over the summer; the popular girls like him, but Lia's the only one he'll dance with at the school's weekly dance classes. Malicious rumors about them spread ``like a hurricane'': Lia is scorned by boys and girls alike for allegedly ``making out'' with Scott in the boys' bathroom, while Scott seems to get off, well, scot-free. When Lia's camp friends visit her at Halloween, she tries to hide her ``reputation'' from them, but she ultimately breaks down--and receives their warm support. The prose sometimes lapses into well-traveled phrases and the stakes in this story are never very high, but Cooper's attention to details like hair and clothes, or the anxiety of going solo on public transportation, shows her keen understanding of upper-middle-class adolescent concerns. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)