kristen tracy

Project Unpopular by Kristen Tracy


Project (Un)Popular

Popularity: who has it, who wants it, and who won't get it is the topic of this story about two middle school friends who want to make the lives of their classmates more equitable, to disastrous results.

Middle school isn't a popularity contest. It's a war.

Perry and her best friend, Venice, are excited to be yearbook photographers and tell the story of their school through their art. But that's before they find out the truth: the spontaneous moments they're supposed to capture are all faked. Bossy eighth grader Anya gives them a list of the popular kids - her own friends - who Perry and Venice have to take pictures of. And that makes Perry super mad.

Yearbooks should include everybody - even the dorks. But Perry feels totally stuck. Until she starts taking flattering shots of the people on Anya's list, none of her candids will ever be chosen. Perry can't sit by and let this happen. But fighting back isn't going to win her any friends - she might even lose some.

Perry has to decide what's more important: fitting in... or standing out.

School Library Journal:

Cursed orange hoodies, toxic triangles, and conspiracy theories infiltrate Perry's world when she begins sixth grade. As junior photographers for the yearbook, Perry and her best friend, Venice, quickly discover shooting pictures is not about focusing, framing, and capturing the best moments, but, rather, about posing the popular kids. Determined to take a stand, they decide to photograph only "nerds," but when Venice starts falling for Leo and an increasingly complex plan evolves, Perry questions her motive. The popular eighth-grade yearbook editor, Anya, preys on Perry’s vulnerability, sending her spying and scheming. Perry gets behind in her schoolwork, worries that her friendship with Venice is "dunzo," and ultimately ends up in the principal’s office.

Middle grade readers will relate to the complexities of friendship showcased in this novel. Taking on everything from first boyfriends to the lure of popular older students, author Tracy successfully captures Perry's struggle to weigh options and choose sides. Perry’s panicked phone calls to her older sister, her deleted and revised text messages, and her narration throughout reveal her character as a typical middle schooler - confident at times and completely uncertain at others. Despite her struggles, in the end, readers will be satisfied that Perry begins to find her way, and they will be eager to learn how she moves forward in the sequel. VERDICT: Fans of Tracy's tween books will be excited to read the first installment in this new series. - Beth Parmer, New Albany Elementary Library, OH


Perry Hall is a sweet and likable, although maybe a little naive, sixth grader who is excited to start middle school and join the yearbook staff with her best friend, Venice. Perry thinks the point of middle school is getting good grades, staying out of trouble, and fitting in, but she soon learns middle school students can be vicious. Perry and Venice find out being the only sixth graders chosen to be on yearbook is not a blessing; it is maybe more of a curse, thanks to mean-girl Anya. Anya begins using Perry and manipulating her to do her evil yearbook scheming, while Perry goes along, in part, because of her jealousy of Venice's budding romance with seventh grader Leo. Perry's simple and sweet life is soon made very complicated and filled with all sorts of relatively innocent middle school drama. The plot follows familiar ground, and while Perry is very sweet, she and her parents are almost too sweet, and seem a little corny in parts. Readers, however, will still find themselves rooting for innocent Perry while she tries her best to stay true to herself. It appears there will soon be a sequel, so readers are left to hope that Perry and Venice prevail over evil Anya in the next book. - Reviewer: Kate Neff; Ages 11 to 14.

Download the reading guide for Project (Un)Popular.

Project (Un)Popular was released in hardcover on June 14th, 2016.

ISBN-10: 0553510487

ISBN-13: 978-0553510485

Recommended for ages 9 and up, grades 4 and up.

Project (Un)Popular is the first in a series. Check out the sequel, Totally Crushed.


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