Author: Tara Altebrando
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Publication Date: April 22nd, 2014
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
GoodReads Summary: It is summertime, and twelve-year-old Julia Richards cannot stand the anticipation. Everyone on Darcy Lane seems to be holding their breath waiting for the cicadas to emerge, but what Julia and her best friend, Taylor, want is some real excitement. Which arrives in the form of a new neighbor named Alyssa, who introduces a ball game called Russia . . . and an unwelcome level of BFF rivalry.
Suddenly nothing stands unchallenged—not Julia's friendships, her crush, or her independence. But while Julia realizes that she cannot control all the changes in her life, she hangs onto the hope that everything will go in her favor if she can just win one magnificent showdown. Acclaimed author Tara Altebrando's middle-grade debut features a voice that is true to the adolescent experience, where everything is felt acutely in a whirlwind of all-or-nothing emotion.
What I Think: Growing in and out of friends is such a part of growing up and Tara Altebrando gets this push and pull of friendship just right as she tells Julia's story. Bringing the characters to life with great dialogue and relationships that are so true to real life.
I especially love the characters in this book and how the main character has people in her life to support her even when she is facing others who make her question their friendship and who she is as a person. As a mentor text, this book is great for looking at how to capture personal stories on paper, inviting students to read about the everyday experiences that Julia has, to relate them to their own lives, and then to write stories of their own lives.
Read Together: Grades 5 - 7
Read Alone: Grades 5 - 8
Read With: Audition & Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. and Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner, Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg, Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Snatch of Text:
"The new girl had long dark brown hair with the sides pulled up to the top of her head in a butterfly clip, and her top lip looked like it had been pinched and gotten stuck in a permanent pucker.
'What are you doing?' she asked.
Taylor said, 'We're just hanging out,' before I had a chance to explain that we were pretending to be millionaires. 'I'm Taylor and this is Julie.'
The new girl studied us. 'Are you sisters?'
Taylor pointed. 'No. I live two houses down.'
'Yeah, didn't think so.'
It was true that Taylor and I looked nothing alike but for some reason it sounded like an insult." (p. 12)
"I felt a pain in my gut as we pulled off the block, a fear of missing something or everything." (p. 32)
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Visualizing
Writing Strategies to Practice: Personal Narrative, Alliteration, Dialogue
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when a friend wasn't acting like a good friend.
Topics Covered: Friendship, Family, Relationships, Honesty, Loyalty, Kindness, Courage
I *heart* It: