Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Heather Nuhfer
Illustrator: Simini Blocker
Veronica is intent on joining the “Est” club, where the prettiest, sportiest, smartest, and other “best” students of the school congregate. However, the “Ests” consider Veronica to be too average. Veronica is sure she can impress them by decorating the gym for the Spring Formal. Unfortunately, her emotions begin to cause very literal problems. When she’s afraid, she turns invisible; when she’s angry, fire bursts from her mouth; when she’s happy, her body forces her to dance for joy. Struggling to hide her powers from her dad, her bully, and her nosy school counselor, Veronica and her best friend Charlie try to figure out how to control her powers and discover where they came. When her superpowers are revealed at the dance, Veronica’s emotions cause a storm to erupt. To calm her down, her father confesses that Veronica gets her powers from his side of the family. Almost everyone’s memories of Veronica’s powers abruptly disappear, and she accepts that it’s okay for her to be the “weirdest” in the school.
Occasionally, a comic-like illustration is shown at the end of a chapter, but this tale is told primarily in prose. Throughout the lighthearted story are some genuine, real-life issues that preteens and others can relate to. Although generally an entertaining read, there are also some problems with the story that may frustrate the reader. The teachers in the school ignore and at times enforce the exclusiveness of the popular kids and the bullying that Veronica experiences to a degree that is unrealistic. The school guidance counselor being a secret government agent is alluded to, but her sudden switching of loyalties to protect Veronica feels very abrupt. Furthermore, the mind erasing at the end of the story is never fully explained. Given that Veronica’s powers are centered on emotions, the sudden mind-wiping is merely a convenient escape from the storm she created at the school, leaving the reader confused and unsatisfied.