cover image Seventh Grade Tango

Seventh Grade Tango

Elizabeth Levy. Hyperion Books, $15.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0498-6

Levy (My Life as a Fifth Grade Comedian) leads a merry dance in this novel about a ballroom competition. When Rebecca's school is chosen for a pilot arts program, the dance teacher pairs the seventh grader with her longtime buddy and budding crush, Scott. Complications arise when Rebecca's reputed friend Samantha (""the kind of girl for whom the adjective `cute' was created"") decides to target Scott as her next boyfriend. Levy's depiction of junior high crushes is spot-on, as she chronicles Rebecca's infatuation with her charismatic dance instructor, a love triangle involving Rebecca, Samantha and Scott and the middle schoolers' squirmy, nervous reactions to kissing games at parties. Rather than painting Samantha as an obvious villain, Levy characterizes her as credible enough to earn Rebecca's dogged loyalty, then gradually escalates Samantha's coy competitiveness. Meanwhile, Rebecca and Scott's chemistry simmers from the start and finishes with a steamy round of tango in a citywide contest. Readers will likely enjoy a turn on the dance floor with this likable couple. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)