Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30388-4 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30391-4 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7
“Be anonymous and safe” is the motto of twelve-year-old Pixie, which goes against the family grain: as adventurous extroverts and owners of the legendary party business “We Are Party People, ” her parents are the polar opposites of their daughter. Now Pixie’s mother is away tending to an ill relative and Pixie is unhappily having to do more work in the business, including, potentially, appearing as a mermaid at a kids’ party. Meanwhile, her new friend Sophie is also pushing Pixie out of her comfort zone as Sophie runs for president of student council against the popular girls. Pixie is utterly plausible as the wannabe wallflower who can’t even bring herself to wear the t-shirt supporting her friend’s candidacy; practical, mature Sophie is a good foil as well as friend for Pixie, and there’s some interesting discussion between Pixie and her friends about who controls your life and narrative. The book also manages a neat balance on the parties, giving enough details to make the process fascinating (how do you introduce a clown to a clown-phobic preschooler?) while acknowledging the intensity it demands. That and the fact that Pixie’s friendships never waver give this a twist on the familiar school-and-peers drama, and kids will appreciate both Pixie’s struggles and her growth.