From School Library Journal
Gr 3-4–Fourth-grader Rolly Maloo is pretty and intelligent but she fears she is not smart enough to win a coveted spot in a math competition. She uses her popularity to win the allegiance of Jenna Lee, who is smarter but in much lower social and economic strata. During the important test, the in-crowd gets the answers they need, and Jenna gets caught. Who is the cheater? Rolly and her friend Patty had manipulated her, and Jenna capitulated to their demands. Complicating matters are the mothers of the popular girls. Grown-up Queen Bees themselves, they are PTO powerhouses spying from the copy room and demanding action from the principal, who just wants the situation to go away. The true heroes are the other social outcasts, Shorn and Hugo (who tell what they know), and the kids' kind and fair teacher, Mrs. Pie. She cracks the case with deductive reasoning, handwriting analysis, and some very interesting “push-back” on Principal Young's efforts to appease the parents. Wong's inclusion of school administration and “helicopter” parents makes this morality play a painfully accurate portrayal of elementary school political and social dynamics. The characterizations are spot-on, and Buttler's frequent graphic-novel-style artwork and dialogue balloons emphasize reactions and emotions. The easy-reading level and heavy use of illustrations may attract an audience not prepared for the moral ambiguity displayed by the adult characters, but the story is one worth telling.–Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NCα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Rolly is the most popular girl in fourth grade. So why does she suddenly invite Jenna over? Is it because Jenna gets perfect scores on math tests? Should Jenna help Rolly cheat? Wong writes in the alternating voices of Jenna and Rolly, as well as their classmates, teachers, and parents, and it is sometimes hard to keep track of who is speaking. Still, the prose narratives, along with the pencil and digital illustrations that are sometimes laid out in comic-style panels, nicely express the characters' thoughts and feelings, alone and in the classroom. The story culminates during a math test when Rolly throws a small paper ball to Jenna with a question (“What is # 8?”), and Jenna overcomes her hesitation and throws back the answer. The teacher is busy reading her e-mail, but other kids see what is happening. Or do they? Rumors fly, and in one stand-out picture, trendy mothers babble on their cell phones in the supermarket with wild stories about Jenna's guilt. Middle-grade readers will be easily caught up in the cheating drama. Grades 2-4. --Hazel Rochman
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