by Julie Bowe
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012
Reviewed from purchased copy.
Summer camp is more fun when you have Friends for Keeps!
It's Ida May's first time at sleepaway camp, and her two BFFs, popular Stacey and highly organized Jenna, are also coming along. But when they arrive at camp, their bunkmate is the last person Ida expected to ever see again: Elizabeth Evans, her last best friend who moved away before the start of this series. Ida was heartbroken when Liz didn't answer her letters, and now Liz won't even apologize. All the other girls are ready to welcome Liz back, but Ida just can't be the peacemaker this time. Not until she and Liz talk.
Chockablock with fourth-grade wisdom, laughter, jealousies--and apologies--this conclusion to the series is a must read for all Ida May fans.
While I love most kinds of middle grade literature, I have a special love of contemporary middle grade. Maybe it's because I work with real kids, but I find a special enjoyment in reading about kids dealing with real problems. Julie Bowe's Friends for Keeps series does a fabulous job of portraying the ins and outs, ups and downs of friendship. Today I'm highlighting the newest book in the series, My Extra Best Friend, but see below for a quick synopsis of the other four books in the series. While each book stands on its own, it works best to read them in order. That way you have a better understanding of how the various relationships have developed over time.
Ida May is thrilled to be heading to camp with her group of friends. They are even going to be in the same cabin. But when Ida May's former best friend turns up as another cabin mate, Ida May is stunned and upset. The ease with which Liz, formerly Elizabeth, seems to fit into Ida's group of friends doesn't make things any easier.
Reading this series has taken me back to my own elementary school experiences and the drama of friendships coming and going. Bowe really hits a home run with this series. I found myself experiencing the ups and downs of fourth grader Ida May and her friends. In fact, several times I had to stop and remind myself that this was just a story and that I didn't need to get so upset. Maybe it's silly of me to get so involved with characters this way, but I've found some books just do that for me. Maybe I especially connect with this one because I work at an elementary school and I see this stuff going on all the time. And I remember all to well how my own friendships fluctuated a lot during my 4th-7th grade years. This is a series that I am definitely going to be recommending to the girls I work with, I have no doubt that they will relate to it. This series would also be great for read-a-louds, for there is much here to be discussed about friendship, bullying, and the importance of kindness and forgiveness. I highly, highly recommend this series for all middle grade girls!
The other books in the series:
As Ida May begins fourth grade, she is determined never to make another best friend--because her last best friend moved away. This is a doable plan at first. Thanks to bratty, bossy Jenna Drews who hates Ida, no one in class has ever really noticed her before. It's when the sparkly Stacey Merriweather comes to her school that her plan goes awry. Ida reaches out despite her fear, but doesn't say hello—instead she writes Stacey anonymous notes. Soon their friendship develops without Ida ever having to reveal her real identity. Until she has no choice. And that's when the true friendship begins.
There's a new girl in town! After Ida May’s last best friend moved away, she swore she’d never have another. But then she met fun, sparkly Stacey Merriweather, and now she and Ida are like two peas in a pod. When the friends discover a magical mermaid night-light that seems to grant wishes, they start a secret club—just the two of them. Ida uses the mermaid to make something bad happen to Jenna, the mean girl in class. Then Stacey uses the mermaid to undo a scheduled math test. The more they put the mermaid's powers to use, the more they need to help it along by manipulating the truth with their "highly creative stories." Ida goes along with all the lies at first. But before long, Ida suspects that Stacey is using the mermaid to tell some big lies . . . and to cause some big trouble at home. And soon Ida feels caught between telling the truth and hurting friendship with Stacey. How will Ida set the record straight while still keeping her new best friend?
Ida May finally fits in at school after becoming best friends with Stacey Merriweather, who is universally liked by their classmates. But then Ida?s frenemy, bossy Jenna Drews, brings in a game of truth or dare, and all the girls are suddenly daring one another to misbehave. When Ida finds herself in the principal?s office, she?s scared into ratting out her friends and gets freezed out of the group. The only way she can fix things is to take a triple-dog dare: letting one of the girls pierce her ears. Will her BFF come to her rescue, or is this the perfect job for a frenemy? Packed with fourth-grade jealousies, problems, misbehavior, and consequences, this third book about Ida May stands on its own.
Friendships are shifting for Ida May, and all because Jenna and Brooke (former BFFs) are feuding. No one knows what started the fight, but soon the girls in class have taken sides, with Ida May stuck in the middle. Does Ida have what it takes to understand the true nature of Jenna and Brooke's real friendship and figure out the way to bring them, and the rest of the class, together?