Too Cool for This School
Lane Cisco loves, loves, loves her life at Rio Chama Middle School - until her offbeat cousin comes for an extended visit and turns everything upside down. With her individual sense of style and nonconformist attitude, Angelina "Mint" Taraval is everything Lane isn't. And instead of branding her a loser the way Lane and her friends expect, people actually want to hang out with her. Including the boys Lane and her best friend, Ava, like.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books:
Lane has it made: she's got popular friends, a cute possible boyfriend, and the honor of being chosen sixth-grade captain, which is an entrée to a secret world of upperclassmen. Her perfect life hits an obstacle when her same-age cousin, Mint, comes to stay for a month and joins Lane at school. Despite Lane's generosity in explaining all the rules of middle school to Mint, Mint persists in being an individual ("She should have been thankful I was trying to help her"). Though Lane and her friends initially fear that Mint's behavior will sink their own popularity, what happens is even worse: quirky, outgoing Mint eclipses them completely, winning the heart of the boy Lane's best friend adores and the attention of Lane's fellow grade captains. Tracy's snappy, intelligent prose manages the delicate feat of allowing Lane a truthful narration ("I did stuff the way you were supposed to do stuff in order to live a fantastic life") while making clear that her viewpoint is colored by selfishness and jealousy, demonstrating the disastrous effects of the crossroads of anxiety and ego. This is also a particularly fine outing for demonstrating the way mean-girling can swiftly gather speed as Lane manages to rationalize some horrible behavior and, in loyalty to her ousted friend, makes only the feeblest resistance to a plan that would leave Mint with an undeserved criminal record. Lane's perspective makes this an excellent title for language arts use, and it could be a productive entry in a book club for a discussion of perspective and the way we're all the good guys in our own lives. - Deborah Stevenson
Too Cool for This School was released in hardcover on August 6th, 2013.
Recommended for ages 9 and up, grades 4 and up.