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  • Don’t Wear Polka Dot Underwear with White Pants (and Other Lessons I’ve Learned) by Allison Gutknecht
  • Amy Atkinson
Gutknecht, Allison. Don’t Wear Polka Dot Underwear with White Pants (and Other Lessons I’ve Learned); illus. by Stevie Lewis. Aladdin, 2013. [144p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-8393-4 $15.99 Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-4424-8392-7 $5.99 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 2-4

Amanda Berr loves the color periwinkle, her Rainbow Sparkle stuffed animal, and the thought of playing George Washington in the second-grade presidential pageant. She detests competing with newborn twin siblings and a three-year-old brother for her parents’ attention, pleading in vain for a fancy-dancy pair of periwinkle sunglasses, and having to wear white pants—especially when her polka dot underwear shows through and her whole class laughs at her. When her teacher assigns the role of George Washington to her arch-nemesis—even after Amanda whitens her hair with sugar to more convincingly play the part—she realizes she can either admit defeat or embrace her role as pageant narrator. As she learns to appreciate her siblings and classmates and relishes an afternoon alone with her parents, she adds to her growing set of life lessons, with particular emphasis on underwear selection. Gutknecht provides some nice moments of both humor and sympathy, and Amanda’s yearning for her parents’ attention and her disappointment in not winning the coveted pageant part ring true. The faux-naïve narration and mishap-prone character, however, are so derivative of Junie B. Jones as to detract from any of this story’s own merits, and the storyline and protagonist fall flat. This may, though, serve as a holdover for those independent readers who love Junie B. but wouldn’t dream of picking up something with “First Grader” in the title. Final illustrations not seen. [End Page 214]



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