Monday, April 8, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: PALMETTO PRINCESSES by Susan Connell

PALMETTO PRINCESSES by Susan Connell (2012)

Now that I've officially joined the e-book revolution (I am always late to each and every revolution) I was able to zip this title onto my Nook and read away. (Prior to Nookery, I had to lug my laptop around to read any e-pubbed books--with the fear that it would fall into The Don's hot tub--where of course we Mafioso spend a great deal of our time.
The Story: Being "the new girl" at Palmetto Bay Middle School is hard enough for archaeologist's daughter Isabella Jones (Izzy, to her friends...if she had any.)All this eleven year old wants is to fit in and, if she's lucky, maybe make some real friends, especially with the fun loving, always loyal clique known as the Palmetto Princesses.
But the road to friendship grows rocky when an imaginary relative leads to an embarrassing misunderstanding. Will Izzy be a 6th grade outcast for the whole year? And is her widowed father really starting to date her teacher?! It's not easy being a 6th grade new girl. WARNING: No wizards, dragons or bullies appear in this book.
Opening Lines: I pulled the brush through my hair one last time, looked in the mirror and winced. If I wasn't happy with my shoulder length, crayon brown hair, it was too late to do something about it now. Dad had already stopped the car in front of Palmetto Bay Middle School.

Why I Liked It: Having Princesses in the title made me think this was going to be all about spoiled, entitled, and possibly mean girls--but Susan Connell took a different route. These 6th grade kids are very sweet and accepting of one another (which may not be realistic, but may be the right kind of escapism that kids this age need.) The girls have mild crushes on the boys, one of whom--"Big Beemer"--is a good-natured goofball.

The main character, Izzy, is very likeable. Even better, she's believable. New to town, she wants to be part of the in-crowd, and she does become so--but she often has niggling thoughts about whether the girls have totally accepted her. Her relationship with her widowed dad is sweet--but once again, she really doesn't know what to think about the fact her dad may be interested in her teacher. I thought Susan Connell's portrayal of what a girl this age worries about (and enjoys!) were spot on.

I did see the ending coming a mile off, but didn't mind it because it made me "feel-good." We all need those kind of feel-good novels now and again, even we hard bitten Mafioso types.

I'm not usually a pink-cover kind of guy, but I liked this one because of the looks on the girls's faces.
Particularly recommended for girls aged 8-11

About the Author: Susan Connell is a well-established writer of adult romances. She lives in Florida with her husband, and the two of them love to travel. They have three daughters and six grandchildren. You can find more about Susan Connell on her Website.