“Pearl? Do you know anything about this?” asked Mom, and I heard a tone in her voice. It was the You’re-Walking-On-Thin-Ice tone, which, well, to be honest, sometimes I think it would be exciting to actually fall through the ice and see what’s underneath.” Fourth grader Pearl Littlefield (who wishes she was still in third grade because of the Three Bad Things that happened in school last year which her classmates won’t let her forget) is a city girl, the daughter of a writer and a professor. She and her older sister Lexie live in an apartment building. Pearl’s best friend Justine lives just across the hall. Because of the Three Bad Things, Justine is Pearl’s only friend, even though Justine is in first grade for the secondtime. Pearl doesn’t mind having a younger best friend who doesn’t get jokes easily—at least she has a friend. Pearl has a “perfect” older sister, Lexie, who is almost 14, who has lots of friends, gets straight As, and who never gets in trouble with their parents. Pearl tries really hard to get Lexie’s attention, but usually in the wrong way—like hiding her shoes, showing up in Lexie’s room in her holey underwear, and trying to sabotage her dates with boyfriend Dallas. But all of this is just the beginning of the story, because the Littlefields’ life is about to change in many ways. The girls’ grandpa, Daddy Bo, has to move in with the family because he has fallen and broken his shoulder, and the unthinkable happens: Pearl has to move into Lexie’s bedroom to free up space for Daddy Bo to stay in to recuperate from his fall. Pearl, of course, is delighted: she can eavesdrop on Lexie, look at all her stuff, and generally annoy her endlessly. Lexie goes to Mom and Dad to set some rules to rein Pearl in before she no longer has any privacy. Can the girls live together and learn how to respect each other as sisters and friends? A few rules—10 to be exact—help them to live together as sisters and grow towards being the friends Pearl dreams they can be.
As always, Ann M. Martin packs an entire world into a modest volume, drawing characters with voice, personality, and dreams. By the novel’s end, the reader feels a part of the Littlefield family and has seen positive growth in both sisters. Daddy Bo’s memory lapses, although never named as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, are concerning but not so scary that young readers can’t deal with them. When Pearl has to be the adult in a situation where the adult isn’t functioning properly, she comes through with flying colors. Charts and lists made by Pearl help the reader separate the personalities of the two sisters and note changes as they develop. The New York City setting provides a chance for suburban or rural girls to imagine what living in a densely populated U.S. city can be like. This story is a wonderful read that will keep young girls turning the pages until they utter a sigh at the happy conclusion. 228 pages
Reviewed by: Shari Shaw, Library Media Specialist, Michigan, USA
"Everything Pearl does seems to drive her sister Lexie crazy. So, when their grandfather moves in with their family and the sisters have to share a room, Pearl knows she has to be on her best behavior with Lexie. She even comes up with a list of rules to follow…”
Pearl and her pre-teen sister don’t see eye to eye. When their grandfather moves into their apartment, sisters have to share a room. Pearl makes up a list of rules for living with her sister. When she starts to follow the rules, she learns to see things from her sister’s point of view, and by the end of the book the sisters are better friends and more patient with each other. This was a good read and would be welcomed by young ladies in the middle grades coping with their own sisters.
Recommended by Alice Cyphers, Librarian, Pennsylvania, USA