Word Spelunking

Plastic Polly - Jenny Lundquist I really loved Jenny Lundquist's other middle-grade novel Seeing Cinderella, so I was super excited to dive into her new book Plastic Polly, and Lundquist has once again captured the world of tweens with honesty, humor, and heart.Polly is the second most popular girl in her middle school and the right hand gal to her BFF (and reigning queen bee), Kelsey. Polly enjoys being popular and all the privileges that come with it, like a seat at the Court in the cafeteria, invites to all the best parties, the envy of her peers, and getting to plan the annual Groove It Up. Groove It Up is a yearly talent competition between Polly's school and the other middle school in town, and this year's prizes include an exclusive concert from the famous Shattered Stars. Kelsey is the Groove It Up PlanMaster, until an accident lands Kelsey in the hospital and out of school for three weeks. As her second in command, Polly becomes the new PlanMaster, but she quickly learns that being popular isn't as great or easy as she once thought. Polly must deal with mean backstabbing frenemies, a complicated crush, a difficult mother, and a former BFF, all while trying to prove that she's more than Plastic Polly.Plastic Polly does something that not many middle-grade books do: it focuses on a main character that is considered popular and not an outsider. I'll admit that I was a bit hesitant when I realized this because I tend to be a fan of the outcast, underdog characters, but I was pleasantly surprised with what Lundquist did with Polly and her story.Lundquist knows how to capture the tween and young teen voice perfectly. And the middle school world she has created is pretty spot on. The tension between the popular kids, the brainy kids, and the artsy kids is crafted with unabashed honesty and realism (but always remains appropriate for its intended audience). The kids in this book act and talk like very real middle schoolers, which I think readers, especially young readers, will really appreciate. And Lundquist doesn't glorify or encourage the often nasty and mean behavior of her characters. I really like the way that this mean and bullyish behavior isn't limited to the popular kids; the unpopular kids are just as guilty of judging and insulting others as well.Polly turned out to be a really fabulous character. With Polly, Lundquist has given a voice to what so many young people want and desire: to simply be accepted for who they are. Polly is smart, determined, brave, and kind, but she makes mistakes and doesn't always do the right thing, making her relatable and likable and easy to connect with. Polly's journey from follower Plastic Polly to strong, capable Polly with a voice of her own, is one that younger readers will be inspired by and parents will feel good about.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Plastic Polly surprised me in the best way possible! Jenny Lundquist has used her dazzling writing talent to weave a story that is full of laughs, heart, and memorable characters. This book left me with a happy heart and big smile.

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