cover image Best Buds Under Frogs

Best Buds Under Frogs

Leslie Patricelli. Candlewick, $15.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5104-6

There isn’t a dull moment in this uproarious first novel from Patricelli, best known for her series of board books starring a springy-haired toddler. After a disastrous first day at her new school (much barfing is involved), “supershy” fourth-grader Lily wishes more than ever that she could “blend in, like the handful of spinach Mom adds to our smoothies.” Uninhibited Darby, a passionate believer in ghosts and a collector of frogs, takes Lily under her wing, but then Darby’s manipulative former best friend, Jill, reappears after a stint in London, and sets out to reclaim Darby. Flaunting her English school uniform and a rapidly acquired British accent, Jill masterminds pranks (such as sneaking out of class to paint the monkey bars) that she cajoles Lily and Darby into carrying out. With the exception of a running joke revolving around the name of a Native American tribe, Patricelli’s humor is on the mark, and her scribbly b&w cartoons add to the fun. Lily’s self-effacing narration carries this rollicking look at the challenges and rewards of friendship. Ages 7–10. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Feb.)