Saturday, September 27, 2014
Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a cute middle grade book that's not only fun but also deals with some relevant issues like boys and friendships.
According to Finley and her BFF, Maya, middle school boys can be put into three separate categories: tadpoles, croakers, and frogs. Per their official Life Cycle of Amphibian Boys, while tadpoles are totally not developed yet (read: boys who still love fart jokes and can’t have a normal conversation with girls without making fun of them), a frog is the top of the boy food chain—evolved and mature. Sadly, not many boys have reached that elusive frog status at Staunton Middle School.
Finley thought she had everyone pegged, until Zachary Mattison enters the picture. After suddenly leaving the year before, Zachary’s surprise reappearance at SMS forces Finley to see him in a new light. And when the official life cycle list falls into the wrong hands, it causes a battle between the boys and girls that turns into an all-out war—one that Finley isn’t sure anyone can really win... -Aladdin
THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS by Barbara Dee is a book that I'm certain Booking Daughter would have loved a few years ago. As a young girl, she was always drawn to stories about friendship... and even crushes; and THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS focuses on those two things.
Finley and her best friend Maya have been keeping a rating system of middle school boys called the Life Cycle of Amphibian Boys. They divided them into three groups -- tadpoles, croakers and frogs, with frogs being the most mature and tadpoles being those boys who are haven't really developed into much of anything. (It's really rather creative if you think about it.) Lately, Maya seems not to be as interested in documenting boys, and Finley doesn't understand why.
Finley keeps up with the guide and is pretty certain she knows how each boy should be classified until Zachary Mattison shows up... again. Zachary left school under some mysterious circumstances and at the time was definitely not a frog. Now, he's actually cute and nice, and Finley has to reconsider!
As if all this isn't confusing enough for Finley, someone finds their rating book; and everything is turned upside down. Boys turn against girls, while girls turn against boys; and even best friends find that their friendship isn't the same.
THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS is a very fun book for middle grade girls, and Booking Daughter would have loved it! This book is actually aimed at kids in fourth through eighth grade, and its over 300 pages; however, I do think girls in upper elementary school will best appreciate this story. The main characters are dealing with some relevant issues (i.e. boys and friends), but I do believe the story will resonate most with a younger tween audience.
Having said that, this 45 year old was definitely entertained by THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS. It's very funny but also touches upon some serious issues. I absolutely loved the girls' amphibious rating system and how they came up with their classifications (although I had a feeling that they shouldn't be writing all of this down and bringing it to school.) I also enjoyed seeing how the girls navigated through their problems and eventually learned a few lessons.
I suspect that many readers will find that Finley and Maya are fairly "real" characters. By that I mean that they will either recognize themselves or their friends in them. For the most part, these girls were really good; however, they did struggle with some typical middle school issues. As a mom, I appreciated that they made a few mistakes but learned from them. In fact, this novel had more than a few good messages for tweens!
THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS would make an interesting book club pick for mom/daughter groups. I wasn't able to find a formal discussion guide, but it wouldn't be hard to come up with a few questions. I really think the friendship issues in the novel are worthy of a discussion along with a few other themes like gossiping, crushes, judgments, and loyalty.
THE (ALMOST) PERFECT GUIDE TO IMPERFECT BOYS is an ideal book for tween girls. Highly recommended!
Thanks to Deb Shapiro & Company for a review copy of this novel.
If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!