Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review of Gossip From the Girls' Room

Books in the form of diaries or journals seem to be the latest craze in chapter books for elementary-aged kids. One of my darling 8 1/2 year-olds has been working her way through the series The Diary of a Wimpy Kid and is graciously letting me borrow them to review. Her current read is Gossip From the Girls' Room by Rose Cooper.

Similar to Wimpy Kid, the story is typed out in a handwriting-like font on lined journal pages with illustrations presumably done by the author. This time it is a girl telling the story. Sofia Becker uses it as her handwritten "Pre-Blogging Notebook" and doesn't allow anyone to read it, except for her best friend Nona. Usually the day following her handwritten entries, her thoughts go up on her real blog, which is "almost popular." She writes under the psudonym "Blogtastic Blogger." Her thoughts reflect what she has seen and heard while attending Middlebrooke Middle School, where many students have a teacher-monitored blog.

She spends a lot of her time hiding out in the bathroom stall, spying on the other girls when they come into the restroom. Her favorite target is Mia St. Claire, the most popular girl at school. She likes to create all kinds of gossip by posting everything on her blog, whether or not it is actually true. This part of the book reminds me a bit about Harriet The Spy, which was popular when I was young. Harriet also spend hours watching people and jotting notes about what was going on. Sometimes she even printed her observations in the school newspaper. Perhaps that was some of the other inspiration for this book?

Along the way, Sofia learns small lessons about why gossip is not nice. She finds herself being the butt of jokes and discussion and gets into big fights with her BFF.

The book was a fast and easy read for me. I don't really care for the tone of Sofia's character. I find her to be somewhat snotty and not at all like most of the girls at her level of social skills that I remember from my junior high days. She is not quite the kind of girl I would want my girls to emulate. She does mature a bit by the end of the book, and probably will develop more as the series continues. (Book 2 was due out this spring.)

Gossip could provide a foundation for discussions about why gossiping is not okay and how damaging it can be. It can help to teach how to properly blog, especially when discussing other people. It's an easy book that will capture the attention of girls who need something a little easier to read to engage them. I may or may not check out the next installment, should I come across it. The 8 1/2 year-old loves it and will probably read the entire series.

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