Word Spelunking

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang - Amy Ignatow The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang is a mouthful of a title, but a bucket full of charm, humor, and heart. Amy Ignatow's quirky diary format style and illustrations combine to make a story about two friends that is worthy of such an impressive title.Fifth-graders Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are life long best friends who have one mission: become popular. To succeed in their mission they set out to observe the popular girls and record their findings, which they do in their trusty notebook. Outgoing Lydia is their human guinea pig who experiments with their findings, while quite Julie dutiful records their progress. And their progress is less than stellar. No matter how much the girls try to be like the popular girls, their results are disastrous (but funny). And even worse, the girls find that their mission is tearing them apart. With a little help from some unlikely sources, the girls discover that maybe they've been going about things wrong.Amy Ignatow has crafted a refreshingly unique tale of fifth-grade woes and the pains of growing up. Ignatow's two main characters are delightfully endearing and her clever diary style of writing and illustrations will have readers of all ages captivated.I love the diary/notebook format of this book! This format, along with Ignatow's child-like illustrations and her two characters' spot on MG voices, make for a truly memorable and entertaining read. The unabashed quirkiness of this book is just so much fun. But the story is also very realistic and believable. Lydia and Julie's often awkward quest for popularity and experiences as pubescent tweens are something that readers of all ages can relate to and understand. I know I found myself relating to so much of what these girls go through.And they go through a lot! From a disastrous hair bleaching incident that results in a bald patch, to stick-fighting classes, unrequited crushes and unwanted crushes, and a BFF fight, Lydia and Julie have many adventures and misadventures that will make you giggle, cry, and root for them. And best of all, readers will just love Lydia and Julie. These two girls are far from perfect, but they are relatable, funny, clever, and talented. I liked that they had two very distinct personalities, but they meshed so well. Outgoing Lydia is unpredictable and dramatic in a fun way, while timid Julie is witty and sweet. I really enjoyed their strong friendship. And the supporting characters shine as well. Julie's two dads are often hilarious, Lydia's older goth sister is charmingly wry, and the various popular girls have surprising depth. The cast of characters is also wonderfully diverse.The book ends on a very heartwarming and satisfying note that isn't too cheesy or over the top.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: I had a great time reading The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang. Author Amy Ignatow's creation is unique, giggle-inducing, and fun to read and look at. Readers of all ages will enjoy this MG read, but I think younger readers will especially get a kick out of it. I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

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