The Best Friend Battle
by Lindsay Eyre
The Mean Girl Meltdown
by Lindsay Eyre
Both of these stories represent a much-needed addition to the lower end of the middle grade spectrum. For one thing, Sylvie is a girl who plays sports, a character type that is not that widely represented. Girls who are on sports teams will enjoy reading about Sylvie's athletic strengths and weaknesses, and boys will also appreciate the action of the sports scenes. It's also nice to have a middle grade story to recommend that involves hockey. In 2015, there just aren't that many kids who want to read The Chicken Doesn't Skate, no matter how much librarians try to talk it up. The Mean Girl Meltdown will be a great addition to library collections for that reason alone.
Also refreshing is the fact that, instead of dwelling on stereotypical girl drama, Eyre focuses on the very realistic flaws in Sylvie's personality and the mistakes she sometimes makes as a result of innocence and inexperience. Rather than condemning Sylvie for her occasional poor judgment, Eyre constructs a story that allows Sylvie to work through her difficulties and come out stronger, more self-aware, and more empathetic to the people around her. The solutions Sylvie comes up with are always age-appropriate and believable, and each story ends with an effort at making amends with those she has hurt. There is also a lot of humor and gentle suspense involved in each story, which helps kids connect easily with Sylvie's experiences and want to keep reading. Sylvie will be welcomed warmly into the imaginations of readers in grades 2 to 4 - and parents will love her too!
On her website, Lindsay Eyre lists Sara Pennypacker and Hilary McKay as two of her favorite authors, and indeed their books - Pennypacker's Clementine series and McKay's Lulu's series - are the perfect read-alikes for Eyre's own books. Others include the Ivy and Bean books, Kate the Great (Except When She's Not) by Suzy Becker, and Quinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen.
I received digital ARCs of The Best Friend Battle and The Mean Girl Meltdown from Scholastic via Edelweiss. The Best Friend Battle is out tomorrow, March 31, 2015. The Mean Girl Meltdown will be available on August 25, 2015.