cover image April Upstairs

April Upstairs

Susan Beth Pfeffer. Henry Holt & Company, $13.95 (130pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1306-1

Darcy, a spunky seventh grader, lives in the lower half of a two-family house with her parents and older sister. April, Darcy's sedate cousin, and her newly divorced mother have recently moved upstairs. April Upstairs focuses on the stress she faces as the new student at an elite private school. The shy girl has a hard time making friends until she lands a telephone interview with a world-famous rock star. It wins her widespread attention, instant friendships and a coveted spot on the school newspaper staff. The story's sequel tells how Darcy handles the problem of appeasing best friends Sara and Jessica, who are jealous of the time she spends with April. In attempting to regain their favor, the distracted Darcy neglects her schoolwork, igniting a chain reaction of misdeeds that must be rectified. The dialogue in both books is somewhat stilted, yet each story has a charm that may suit preteens. Pfeffer often strives for barely-there levity, but Darcy's agony during an unexpected quiz is bound to hit home, as will April's initial bashfulness. Ages 9-12. (Nov.)