The Popularity PapersLydia and Julie have been best friends forever, and they've decided that this year they're going to figure out how to be popular. You know - part of the in group, part of the cool kids, part of the group that always goes to sleepovers at each other's houses. Lydia and Julie are in 5th grade, and they know that Junior High will mean a whole lot of changes. So they've decided that they better figure out how be popular now, before things get weird.
Research for the social improvement and general betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow
NY: Amulet Books / Abrams, 2010
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon and at your local library
So here is The Plan: Lydia and Julie will keep a journal observing the girls who are already popular. That way they'll be able to figure out exactly what these girls do to be popular, and then Lydia and Julie will do the same things. Ta Da!
Lydia and Julie pass the journal back and forth, sometimes writing in it together, sometimes pasting in notes they wrote in class. The whole book is written in their handwriting, with plenty of illustrations like those above. It's in diary format, much like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and appeals to kids in a similar way, combining humor in the every day experiences kids can relate to.
My children and students have loved reading The Popularity Papers because Julie and Lydia are characters they can connect to. As Betsy Bird, at Fuse #8 wrote, "There’s something about how they crack jokes together, or know each other’s stories that feels real." Kids love the two voices, the handwriting, the drawings. But really, they love it because they can relate to the characters, their frustrations, their hopes, and the emotional roller coaster these two friends go through.
Julie and Lydia are both supported by their families. I particularly loved how Julie's two dads support these friends, taking them out to the craft store when Julie wants to start a new hobby, suggesting a silly song when Lydia wants to sing in the musical, and being there with a hug when things go wrong. The Popularity Papers is really noteworthy for the way it portrays two gay dads, not in an issue-oriented way, but as parents who are an integral, supportive part of Julie's life. I was pleased that The Popularity Papers was recognized by the 2011 ALA Rainbow List Top Ten, honoring books that represent GLBTQ experience for young people.
Life is not easy for Julie and Lydia. They do become friends with different popular girls, but their own friendship is tested as they try to figure out how to balance new and old friends. Below, Papa Dad and Daddy try to comfort Julie in the midst of this drama.
The Popularity Papers, they loved it!
My daughters were thrilled to learn that a sequel is coming out next month: The Popularity Papers Book Two: The Long-Distance Dispatch between Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang
Another book we really enjoyed last year that combined well developed characters, realistic setting, and compelling artwork was Smile, by Raina Telgemeier.
All artwork is ©Amy Ignatow, 2010, shared with permission of the publisher. The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!