CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008
Pastel, flowery and very sparkly, even the covers of the books in this series are appealing to readers in the target age group. The novels, which have a very positive message without being preachy, are about girls with fairly common issues, often to do with self-esteem. The characters in the books seem real, with real problems and real feelings, and the problems are resolved in realistic ways, making it easy for readers to identify with the characters. Not only will young girls like these books, my 10-year-old son read them and asked if I had any more like them (although he'd deny it if you asked him, just because of the sparkly covers).
In The Secret Club, Tamsin has moved to a new school, and, although she is pretty shy, she desperately wants to make friends. She is befriended by a group of girls who all wear anklets with the letters "SS" on them, and she theorizes that her new friends belong to a secret society. She desperately wants to be invited to join, but she is afraid that she won't be since one of the girls seems sometimes to be mean to her. However, when the girls discover a picture of Tamsin and the teenage pop star of the moment, Kayla, they are excited to welcome her as the newest member of their sisterhood, never guessing that Tamsin's brother photo-shopped the picture and that Tamsin has never met the pop star.
Tamsin has had her brother create photos of each of the secret sisters with her favorite pop star. The girls are thrilled with the pictures and not at all disappointed that Tamsin doesn't really know Kayla, the pop star. Later, Casey explains that the reasons she was sometimes mean to Tamsin was because her parents are divorcing, and, because she feels really miserable sometimes, she takes it out on the people around her. Because of this experience, Casey learns that sometimes other people's actions are not necessarily personal, and that she should have more confidence in herself.
Michael explains to Gemma that the strength training wasn't a punishment but was rather to help Gemma get stronger. He also explains that he yelled at her because it worked as she worked harder every time he yelled. And as they talk, Michael discovered that Gemma has been working on the special jump, and he agrees to help her if she agrees to work on it only in class. Gemma continues to work hard and is eventually rewarded when she wins best gymnast overall in the competition, beating even the best gymnasts on her team. Gemma learns that, if she had talked to her coach earlier, rather than fretting and feeling hard done by, she would have discovered that she wasn't being punished and maybe would have enjoyed her gymnastics classes more.
Lisa Hanson O'Hara is a mother of three and librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.