Skip to main content

My Extra Best Friend by Julie Bowe, 215 pp, RL 3

My Extra Best Friend is now in paperback!

With My Extra Best Friend, Julie Bowe wraps up her Friends For Keeps Series that began in 2007 with My Last Best Friend. As always, the wonderful Jana Christy provides the colorful cover art and the fantastic illustration of the whole gang at camp on the inside.

With this, the fifth book in the series, Bowe brings the eventful fourth grade year of Ida May to a close and brings her series full circle with the return of Elizabeth Evans, the titular "last best friend" of the first book in the series. It was Elizabeth's move from Purdee, Wisconsin to Albuquerque, New Mexico, that upended Ida's world and sent her on a bit of a social roller coaster as she navigated new friendships and negotiated with old frenemies over the course of the year. Just when it seems that Ida has everything worked out with Stacey, her new best friend, she's learned that there are things to like about the bossy Jenna Drews and the sometimes-mean-girl Brooke and, along with Meeka, Jolene and Randi the seven girls are excited to be going to sleep away camp together. It turns out that a few boys from class, Tom, Rusty, Joey and Quinn will be there too. Jenna has been to the camp before, in fact, her parents met when they worked there as counselors, and, true to her nature, she is making up lists and organizing every minute of their time. Bowe throws a few wrenches into the works, some of them serious, some silly, all genuine and appropriate to the age and environment of the characters. In fact, that's one thing that I have admired about Bowe's series from the start. She manages to take instances from childhood that, in retrospect might seem trivial to us as adults, but are meaningful to children just learning to navigate social situations. Another thing I love about Bowe's series is that she keeps all the books between 150 and 200 pages, making them the perfect read (in content and reading level) for young readers ready to move beyond Magic Tree House and Junie B Jones.

While Ida has moved on and made new friends, despite her resolution not to at the start of the series, she has never really gotten over the loss of her first best friend, Elizabeth. This is especially so since Elizabeth never once wrote to Ida in the year that she's been gone, although Ida wrote often. When Elizabeth shows up at Camp Meadowlark with a new short haircut, new red glasses and matching cowboy boots and a new name, Liz, Ida behaves in a surprising way. Over the course of the series Ida has always been a bit introverted and thoughtful, kind and never one to be intentionally mean as she responds to her changing social world. In My Extra Best Friend Ida reminds me a bit of Harry Potter and the changes he went through in The Order of the Phoenix when he became an angry teenager, mistrusting his best friends and lashing out at them. When Liz shows up and, as far as Ida can tell, acts like nothing is wrong and she never left, Ida becomes angry. When some of the group, Stacey and Brooke especially, welcome her back, Ida can't take it. Jenna, always the firm believer in rules and consequences, sides with Ida and refuses to be welcoming or nice to Liz. Tensions escalate until Ida and Liz get into an argument that ends in a pushing match. When Liz finally reveals why she never wrote to Ida, the reason is satisfying and makes sense. And, knowing that Stacey doesn't like Ida's treatment of Liz and that Jenna will be jealous if she lets bygones be bygones, Ida is in a difficult spot. On top of that, Brooke thinks she's made friends with a pair of older girls but she's sorely mistaken. A trust-fall platform makes a nice literal and metaphorical centerpiece for this wonderful close to a great series. 



The five books in the series are as follows:




My New Best Friend by Julie Bowe: Book Cover

Book Two: My New Best Friend



Book Three: My Best Frenemy


Book Four:  My Forever Friends


Book Five:  My Extra Best Friend


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…