Fourth grade was supposed to be the best year ever, but when do events ever go according to plan? Usually starting with good intentions or, at the least, blind thoughtlessness, Bobby careens from one disastrous mess to another. Many of these situations involve the boys-against-girls mentality that makes for normal behavior in nine-year-olds. He and his best friend Holly know that they can’t be seen walking to school together, and they are pulled further apart by peer pressure, even running against each other for class office. Add to these woes a working mom, a famous dad who cooks inedible meals and a pet goldfish who can do tricks. Yee really understands children’s thought processes and presents them with tact and good humor. Bobby’s dilemmas and adventures, however wild and out of control, remain totally believable. Santat’s drawings manage the fine line between cartoon and realism and add dimension to the events. Readers will recognize themselves and learn some gentle lessons about relationships while they are laughing at the antics. (Fiction. 7-10)



Lisa Yee  Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally); illus. by Dan Santat

168 pp. Levine/Scholastic 9/09 isbn 978-0-545-05592-5 $15.99 g

(Primary, Intermediate)

Those clamoring for fiction with nonwhite or biracial characters in which race is not the focus will welcome nine-year-old Bobby Ellis-Chan. Bobby and Holly have been best friends since babyhood, but they’ve learned over the last couple of years to keep their friendship secret. When Holly, rather than joining Bobby for their annual rock-hunting trip the last day of summer vacation, chooses instead to go shopping (gasp!) with Jillian Zarr, Bobby senses the end is near, and indeed it is. The story of how Bobby and Holly lose and then rediscover their friendship is told with plenty of Yee’s trademark humor: Bobby’s retired-football-star father is now a stay-at-home dad, severely laundry-challenged and with stunningly bad cooking skills; his mom’s job is to come up with “new products for Go Girly Girl, Inc., the country’s largest maker of sparkly items”; a field trip leaves Bobby with an unusually close attachment to a tree in a scene that manages to be both poignant and funny. While Yee remains loyal to the boy point of view for a large portion of the story, both boys and girls will find much to relate to here. This chapter book (for a younger audience than Yee’s earlier trio of books that began with Millicent Min, Girl Genius, rev. 9/03) features frequent full-page illustrations and a nicely spacious page layout. j.m.b.

                                                                                                -THE HORN BOOK REVIEW


Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) Lisa Yee, illus. by Dan Santat. Scholastic/Levine, $15.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-545-05592-5

When Bobby enters fourth grade, he learns that it's more important than ever to keep his longtime friendship with Holly a secret (“We used to be sorta-best friends, only these days she's my enemy,” he admits to his goldfish). Using humor and relatable situations, Yee (Absolutely, Maybe) shows how the two friends manage to support each other, despite peer pressure. Hurtful accidents—like when Holly lets it slip that she's seen Bobby wearing curlers, and when Bobby's picture of Holly with horns and a mustache appears on the classroom wall—add tension to the already strained relationship. But when Bobby and Holly run against each other for student council rep, their loyalties prove stronger than their grudges. Santat's expressive b&w illustrations evoke the energy of Saturday morning cartoons, and Yee's occasional inclusion of some over-the-top moments (several nervous parents hide in the bushes on the first day of school to see their kids off) only drives the feeling home. The bright prose, concise chapters and gratifying resolutions are likely to please even reluctant readers. Ages 7–10. (Sept.)

                                                                                                        -PUBLISHERS WEEKLY