Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Dear Pen Pal

Dear Pen Pal

Heather Vogel Frederick
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2010   ISBN: 1442408480

Jess, Cassidy, Emma, Megan, and Becca, the girl members of the Mother-Daughter Book Club, are going into the eighth grade, their last year in middle school. Cassidy is still crazy about ice hockey, Emma still loves to read, Megan is still fashion mad, and Becca is still hard to get along with. Everything is the same as it was in seventh grade except that all the students in the middle school now have to wear a less than flattering school uniform that they all despise. In addition, Jess is not longer in school with her friends. She was offered a scholarship to attend Colonial Academy, a local boarding school for girls. Though Jess did not want to accept the scholarship, her parents have managed to prevail on her that going to the school is “an amazing opportunity” that she should not pass up.

Though Jess is not with them on a daily basis anymore, the girls and their mothers are still keeping up their Mother-Daughter Book Club. This year they are reading Daddy-Long-Legs, a novel by Jean Webster, and to help them get into the spirit of the book, one of the mothers has arranged for the five girls to be pen pals with girls in a book club in Wyoming.

Though Jess likes the classes, music, and riding lessons in her new school, she struggles to get along with her roommate Savannah. Savannah is a senator’s daughter who is rich, stuck up, and nasty. She does her best to put Jess down as often as possible, and it makes Jess quite miserable. Jess shares her woes with her friends, and after Savannah plays a prank on them, they return the favor - with disastrous results.

Jess is not the only one with a problem though. Cassidy’s mother is pregnant and Cassidy does not like the idea that her life is going to change - again. Megan’s grandmother Gigi is visiting, and she and Megan’s mother cannot seem to get along. Megan begins to feel as if she is being pulled between the two women she loves best in the world.

In this third Mother-Daughter Book Club title, we share another year with the five girls, their families, and their friends, watching as they grow up and as they try to deal with the changes in their lives. With sensitivity and humor, Heather Vogel Frederick explores the kinds of issues the middle school girls have to deal with, injecting her love of good literature into the story with great skill.