|Kate the Great|
Except When She's Not
by Suzy Becker
2014. Random House
There are so many middle grade novels written in diary format that another one seems superfluous, but if there must be more, they all ought to be like Kate the Great Except When She's Not. Kate's voice is engaging, with the right mix of sarcasm and and sincerity for her age and worldview. She is neither cruel and opportunistic like Greg Heffley nor sweet and innocent like the title character in the Just Grace series. Rather, she is a healthy mix of flaws and strengths that most readers will find relatable. Her observations of adult behavior are especially insightful, and they critique some of the injustices of childhood without making the adults into inept fools, which is refreshing. The friendship storyline is also given new life in this book. Nora is an especially well-developed secondary character whose involvement in the story deviates from the usual "outsider who is bullied" trope.
Based on its cover alone, Kate the Great will appeal to readers who have enjoyed Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries. It is also actually a nice alternative to those books for kids who don't want to read about dating, romance, or catty backstabbing. In that sense, its closest readlikes are the Aldo Zelnick and Amelia Rules series.
I received a digital ARC of Kate the Great Except When She's Not from Random House via NetGalley.
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