Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Popularity Papers: Words of (Questionable) Wisdom from Lydia and Julie

The Popularity Papers: Words of (Questionable) Wisdom from Lydia and Julie

Amy Ignatow
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Amulet Books, 2011   ISBN: 978-1419700637

Lydia is back in the U.S. after being in London for six months, and she is eager to get in sync with her friends and school life. It isn’t easy, because things have changed in her absence, and she has a little catching up to do. She tries to make friends with the mean kids and it soon becomes clear that that is going to be a waste of time. So, she decides that she and Julie should make friends with the kids who don’t have many other friends.

The best friends are working on this plan when Sukie’s mother dies. Sukie’s friends (including Julie and Lydia) go to the funeral, and the girls come to appreciate that being popular and worrying “about what people will think” about them is a waste of time. In short they need to live their own lives.

The girls put together their version of a bucket list, and in short order, they manage to check off two of the items on the list. The problem is that things don’t work out as well as the girls hoped. Lydia does get into the school musical, but no one is happy to have her on the cast. Julie does work on a great art project with Jon, but he lets her do all the work and then claims that the project is mostly his. How is it that their bucket list plans go so wrong, and why are all their efforts to be good friends backfiring?

Once again, Amy Ignatow has created a story that explores what it is like to be a middle schooler. Readers will laugh (and commiserate) with Lydia and Julie as they stumble around making mistakes and upsetting people as they try to do the right thing. The girls’ alternating journal entries perfectly capture their very different personalities, and by the end of the story, readers will be able to appreciate the lessons that Julie and Lydia so painfully learn as they get through sixth grade.