Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Melissa Walker
Starting at a new school in the middle of the school year is difficult for anyone, but it's even harder when you're only eleven-years-old. Mattie learns that she's not only moving to a different school, but to a different state as well! She becomes friends with her new neighbor, Agnes, who is lots of fun and in the same class as Mattie. But at school, everyone thinks Agnes is strange and won't be friends with her. Thankfully, Agnes leaves Mattie alone so she can have some "cool" friends. Mattie realizes that she wants to be friends with Agnes at school too and decides to turn things around so everyone will accept her. In the end, Agnes is still the weird kid at school, but everyone accepts her, allowing Mattie to keep all the new friends she has made.
Walker writes a wonderful story, truthfully told from an eleven-year-old perspective with all the fear and anxiety that comes with wanting to be accepted. Agnes's personality may be a little strange, but readers will fall in love with her quirkiness. Even though some people are shy or have anxiety while in public, it shouldn't stop us from getting to know the amazing person underneath. Mattie's desire to be accepted and fit in is a challenge many young readers face. Her example to be inclusive and understanding is a powerful message. Mattie learns to stand up for someone who is not able to do so herself and to work out her own problems in ways that will help those around her. Overall, a lovely story with fun and adventure for anyone.