Allusions to Little Women, sprinkled throughout this contemporary novel, may well pique the interest of Louisa May Alcott buffs. Frederick (the Patience Goodspeed books; the Spy Mice series) alternates the perspectives of Emma, Megan, Cassidy and Jess, members of a mother-daughter book club who are reading Little Women while adjusting to their first year of middle school. Emma, an aspiring writer, has grown apart from her former best friend, Megan, who gained entry into the popular crowd after her father's invention made the family rich. Despite her heightened status, Megan isn't altogether happy, since her mother scorns her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Meanwhile, tomboy Cassidy mourns the loss of her father, who was killed in an accident, and Jess misses her mother, who has gone to New York to pursue an acting career. All of the girls are less enthusiastic about the book club than their parents are, but as might be expected, their attitudes change as they become absorbed in Little Women and its author, who grew up in their hometown of Concord, Mass. The girls' increasing sensitivity to each other's problems is convincing, but the way in which each character finds happiness (during a whirlwind trip to New York City) is more dependent on lucky circumstance than personal achievement. Still, this club's success in uniting a group of disparate sixth-graders may well inspire readers to start one of their own. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 4-6-Emma is teased about wearing hand-me-downs by the mean Fab Four, but the fact that she has a cool older brother evens things out a bit. At the end of the first day of sixth grade, her librarian mom announces that Emma will be joining her after dinner for the newly formed Mother-Daughter Book Club and that the first book will be Little Women. Megan is one of the Fab Four; her health-obsessed mother is also dragging her off to the book club. The other two members are Emma's friend Jess and Cassidy, a jock. Each chapter is narrated by one of the girls; unfortunately, they all sound alike and there is nothing to distinguish one voice from another. While the setting, Concord, MA, provides an appealing scenic backdrop, the story tries too hard to find parallels to Little Women. Problems and how they are overcome seem forced and unrealistically resolved. The supposed insights learned from studying Little Women don't seem to apply to those outside the club as mean girls are one-upped and boorish adults are told off. A running joke about an overweight, unpleasant adult is disturbing especially as the remarks are condoned and even instigated by the adults, something Marmee March would not have approved of. Discussion questions for this book and an author's note are appended.-Susan Moorhead, New Rochelle Public Library, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.