“Miranda and Gus have been best friends forever. They are always together, riding bikes, watching horror flicks, reading books or writing their new story, ``Alien Attraction.'' During their eighth-grade year, however, Miranda is propelled into adolescence and her friendship with Gus begins to change. Growing into a young woman both excites and frightens Miranda; she is confused by her emotions, and the long-term friendship only complicates things. She tries to avoid Gus, but as she comes to understand her feelings, she realizes that he will always have a special place in her life. Sharp, sensitive details and clever analogies highlight the narrative, as McDonnell candidly yet delicately explores what reaching adolescence means for a girl in today's world.”
Los Amigos Primero
The Mexican edition of Friends First.
By Christine McDonnell
“A middle-grade novel about a hockey-playing girl named Bea who is bitten by the “ballet bug.” The earnest young dancer advances remarkably quickly in her lessons, presumably because of her hockey skills, and after just a few weeks of ballet classes, she wins a small part in the dance school production of The Nutcracker. Short chapters follow Bea and her two friends through rehearsals and lessons, punctuated with a raft of problems caused by a pair of evil twin sisters out to eliminate the competition. Bea is a likable main character, and there is plenty of inside talk about both the backstage world and the dance school to satisfy young readers bitten by the ballet bug themselves.”
Count Me In
A sensitive, satisfying story of a young girl's struggle to accept change within her family and herself the summer after her eighth-grade graduation. Katie has been feeling closed-out after her mother's remarriage to Steve. Then the two announce that they're having a baby, and Steve goes around the house singing, ""And baby makes three.'' Katie's best friend only talks about boys. Katie fantasizes that she could move in with her father, but then discovers he has a girlfriend. By the time Katie joins her grandmother for her annual vacation at the beach, she's sure she's been pushed out by everyone. Her grandmother's a good listener, though, and Katie meets a boy, and by the time the baby comes, she's decided that a family is what you make of it. McDonnell handles a familiar subject well, with characters real enough to make the point. (11-14)