________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 11 . . . . January 29, 1999

cover If You Only Knew. (The Friendship Ring series).

Rachel Vail.
New York, NY: Scholastic, (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 1998.
226 pp., cloth and paper, $6.99 (paper), $20.99 (cloth).
ISBN 0-590-03370-0 (cloth), 0-590-37451-6 (paper).

Subject Headings:
Interpersonal relations-Fiction.

Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 11.
Review by Joan Marshall.

* /4


"And when Tommy said that thing about my bun?"
" I don't think he meant anything bad," I told her.
"Yeah, well, now he got me all depressed about my hair."
"You have great hair," I said again.
"Right," she said. "I have to wear a bun or my hair takes over the classroom. No one can fit in the stairwell with me if it's not up. And Tommy made me feel terrible about it."
"He just..."
"Are you on his side?"
"No", I said.
"You sound like you're on his side," CJ whispered.
"I'm not," I assured her.
"You don't like him, do you?"
If only you knew. "No!" I insisted. "Please."
Neither of us talked for a few seconds. I should've said Yeah, maybe I do. If I want to be best friends, I should tell her my secrets. But I couldn't tell her, not the way she asked, like it would be a total betrayal of her if I did. My lie just hung there and I listened to it.
One of three books in "The Friendship Ring" series (the others are titled Please, Please, Please and Not That I Care), this oddly shaped didactic "novel" is marketed towards girls in grades 4 to 6 who are anxious about approaching adolescence and all of its angst: not having any friends, being betrayed by those you thought were your friends, having to share the house with too many or not enough siblings, being forced to take dance lessons, getting together with boys, etc. etc. etc. Almost entirely without any meaningful plot, set anywhere in suburbia, and with no discernible theme, this market-driven piece of writing should be avoided at all costs. When books like Hero of Lesser Causes, Bridge to Terabithia and Promise Song (all about friendship and sibling relationships) are available to inspire and entertain our young girls, If You Only Knew and its ilk cannot be recommended.

Not recommended

Joan Marshall is the teacher-librarian and enrichment facilitator at Henry G. Izatt Middle School in the Fort Garry School Division, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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ISSN 1201-9364