Favorite Galley of the Week
Even though I have moved to the wilds of Illinois, I still find myself the happy recipient of many fine and fancy advanced reading copies of children’s books. It’s very nice, and not something I take for granted, but I’ll confess that in a given season sometimes the titles will blur together. Plots get jumbled in my brain. Characters become fuzzy. It really takes something special to wake me up. And this week, that book was this:
Skeptical are you? You’re looking at that cover and thinking to yourself that this looks like a million other middle grade novels with contemporary girl characters out there. Of course, it has some kind of wacky bent to it. And if I read you the plot description it would go something along the lines of this:
Though she’s never done it before, twelve-year-old Meghan is determined to make it through lights-out at her best friend’s sleepover. She’s also ready to have The. Best. Night. Ever. and her friends Paige and Anna Marie are happy to bring on the fun. There will be miles of junk food, stacks of crazy-scary horror movies, and hours of karaoke smack-downs! Not even the last-minute addition of Anna Marie’s socially awkward soon-to-be stepsister Veronica can dampen their spirits.
But nothing prepares them for the scene that greets them the next morning. The basement is a disaster, Meghan’s left eyebrow has been shaved off and she somehow has the Class Bad Boy’s hoodie, plus there’s a slew of baby chicks in the bathtub! Worst of all, Anna Marie is missing.
Now the remaining girls have to piece together what happened the night before. There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: None of them can remember anything past the two-bit act by the hypnotist Veronica hired as the party’s entertainer.
Can they find Anna Marie and pull off the ultimate save-face . . . all before parent pick-up time? The clock is ticking, the clues are getting weirder and weirder, and only one thing is certain: last night got a whole lot zanier than games of Truth or Dare.
Ah. Are you seeing it now? Are you beginning to understand why I’ve selected this as my favorite galley of the week? That plot description is sounding oddly familiar, isn’t it? Wasn’t there a movie out there with a somewhat similar storyline? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the strangest middle grade-i-zation I’ve seen in a long long time. Compare and contrast.
Yup. This is, insane as it sounds, a 10-year-old girl version of a hugely popular R-rated film. Pillow hugging and chickens intact. Still not convinced? Compare the font of the titles. See how the “THE” is in the “O” both times? THAT, my friends, is attention to detail!
Turns out children’s and YA book author Jen Malone is a “a former Hollywood movie executive”. All I hope is that this book was written on a dare. Step One: Find a movie completely inappropriate for kids. Step Two: Middle grade that puppy UP!
Bravo, Ms. Malone. Them’s some gutsy writing. Now somebody do a kids’ version of It Follows or The 40-Year-Old Virgin and I’ll know we’ve got an official trend on our hands.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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