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The Popularity Papers: Research for the…

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General…

by Amy Ignatow

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1942460,720 (4.12)3
  1. 01
    Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf: A Year Told Through Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm (becbart)
    becbart: Although this story is told from one point of view instead of two, Ginny's grade 7 year is told through sticky notes, school assignments, receipts, and other bits and pieces of her life.

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Recommended Ages: Gr. 3-7

Plot Summary: In their last year before starting junior high, Lydia and Julie decide to chronicle the adventures they have as they observe the popular kids and try to do the same things. They write in a notebook and call their project the Learn and Improve project. The first experiment is to put a blonde streak in Lydia's hair. The hair falls out. The second thing they try is picking up a hobby because Sukie knits. They convince Julie's dad to buy them supplies, but they can't figure out how to do it from the books. The third observation is that Lydia's tryout song for the musical should be more recent and she should wear more feminine clothes to get the feminine role. Lydia ends up as a nun in the chorus for The Sound of Music. The fourth observation is that all of the popular girls have cell phones. They plan to make their parents wish they had a way to contact them by staying too late at a friends house and worrying their parents. Julie ends up with an old, passed down phone, but Lydia gets nothing. What will work? Should they find boys to like? What will work? What will happen when one of them gets invited to a sleepover at Gretchen's house? When one of them makes the field hockey team?

Setting: undetermined, could be any school with a field hockey team and a town that has stick fighting classes that is liberal enough to not make a big deal about Julie having two dads

Lydia Goldblatt - blonde, doesn't have much style, writes in cursive and draws decent stick figures
Julie Graham-Chang - has two dads, wears overalls, the artist
Melody - Lydia's older sister who wears dark clothing and sulks all the time
Sukie Thomas - one of the popular girls who plays field hockey
Roland - Norwegian, has older brothers, Lydia and Julie go to his house in an attempt to make their parents worry and give them cell phones, writes a song in Norwegian about how much he likes Julie and shows it to a teacher who turns it into a song for the school concert which embarrasses Julie to no end and makes her really mad when Lydia sings the solo and spills the beans about the story behind the song to everyone
Chuck Cavelleri - older than the girls, in a stick fighting class, Lydia likes him,
Diedre Nutter - running for student council president, has Julie design her campaign posters, which gets the attention of the teachers and starts an art club
Getchen - running for student council president

Recurring Themes: popularity

Controversial Issues:
Julie has two dads

Personal Thoughts: I loved this one. I thought it was smart, funny, and well done. The illustrations are hilarious. I wish Lydia didn't write in cursive because I think it will turn off many students who are looking for a girl equivalent of Wimpy Kid. I think many boys would enjoy it knowing that they enjoyed Smile by Raina T., but I can't imagine boys would choose this one on their own.

Genre: Realistic fiction

Pacing: Medium-Fast because of the format and the girls are usually reporting on something that happened
Characters: Fonts are very different but I read so quickly sometimes I had to remind myself who was who


Readalikes: Smile ( )
  pigeonlover | Dec 26, 2013 |
An installment of the wildly popular "Popularity Papers" series which includes a character (Julie) with two gay dads.
  rschwed | Oct 5, 2013 |
I picked up this book for our genre reading project because this series has been really popular with the kids since we purchased it for the library. And now I see why! Julie and Lydia are fifth graders who are determined to be popular next year when they move up to middle school. To that end, they decide to observe all the popular girls and write about them and their attempts to emulate them. The book is printed just like it would be a notebook shared by two girls - the type is in handwriting and the text is accompanied by tons of cartoons. The story is really funny as the girls have mishap after mishap in their quest to breach the inner circle of the popular girls. I laughed out loud numerous times and I love the format.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Julie has two dads and it's so not an issue.

Readalikes: This is a clear choice for kids who love those funny, cartoony, diary books like Wimpy Kid, Dork Diaries, etc.

I'd also suggest Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jenni Holm for its very graphic format.

As far as the story line goes, the tale of two girlfriends figuring things out reminded me a little bit of some of the books I enjoyed in my childhood: Blubber by Judy Blume, The Babysitter's Club, and P.S. Longer Letter Later by Ann M. Martin and Paula Danziger. Those might be too dated for some kids, so maybe suggest Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee or The School Story by Andrew Clements. ( )
  abbylibrarian | Apr 16, 2013 |
I am sure this was designed to appeal to the Wimpy Kid fans, but I found it mostly drivel and much prefer Barshaw's Ellie McDoodle books. ( )
  lindap69 | Apr 5, 2013 |
I had to put the book down, I was laughing so hard at the part about Roland's song. I LOVE ROLAND. AND HIS WHOLE FAMILY. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
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To my friends, who are the coolest people I know. --Ig
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Two best friends embark on a project to study the behavior and taste of the popular girls at their elementary school so that by the time they get to middle school they too will be in the right crowd. Novel appears in the form of a scrapbook.

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