A few of my girls read Deep Down Popular by Phoebe Stone earlier in the school year and recommended that I read it. It was in the Scholastic book clubs all year and usually got an order or two because the cover is intriguing (and fun). Who doesn’t love crazy socks? I finally got around to reading this over the weekend, and I have to admit I abandoned it. In fact, I abandoned it about 25 pages from the end. I just did not love it.
The book is well-written and the plot it cute. My first problem was that for the first 10 pages I had no idea if I was reading a historical or realistic fiction novel. The story is set in a small town in Virginia, and maybe it’s just that I have no experience with that. But I really had no idea if the story was taking place 50 years ago or yesterday. I think that will turn a lot of kids off.
Second, the book seemed very unrealistic. If it was historical fiction I might have cut it some slack. However, it is supposed to be taking place in the recent past/now and too many things made me say, “Huh?!” For example, at one point the main character decides to leave school at lunch. Now, there are plenty of smaller schools around here that do allow elementary students to go home at lunch, as long as they have a permission slip on file. However, Jessie Lou just up and goes home without telling anyone! Then, she gets back late after lunch and no one notices! In this day and age, I don’t care how small the town is- schools are responsible for students and Jessie would get quite a talking to when she got back to class. But not in the book. Incidents like that kept bothering me throughout the book.
The story is cute, but that’s really all I can say about it. I wasn’t dying to know what happened at the end and couldn’t even force myself to finish it. It just seemed very “blah” to me. I wouldn’t tell my students not to read it, as it is well-written. I just don’t see myself booktalking or recommending it to them.