With pranks figuring strongly into its premise, Lisa Graff's latest middle-grade novel (The Thing About Georgie) makes a fun read starring sympathetic characters.
When the Media Club at Auden Elementary tries to pick a news anchor to read the daily announcements, Francine Halata and Kansas Bloom tie with three votes each. They agree to determine the winner by double dog dares: whoever completes the most dares gets the job. They both start out strongly: Kansas licks a lizard at recess, and Francine balances a spork on her nose for 15 minutes at lunch. But Francine quickly falls behind when she can't hang upside down on the monkey bars for an entire recess, and Kansas manages to trick the yard monitor into letting him sniff the man's armpit. That's when the competition really ramps up.
But there is more to Double Dog Dare than pranks and competition. Francine finds out that her parents are getting a divorce and doesn't tell her best friend Natalie. Instead of hanging with Natalie after school, Francine helps her father move into his new apartment. And Kansas has just enrolled in Auden Elementary because his mom left his deadbeat dad for a new job in a new town. Chapters alternate between the viewpoints of Francine and Kansas, so readers find themselves rooting for both candidates to win. Ultimately only one of them does, but how this is achieved involves a hamster, a talent show and a really bad magic act. --Lynn Becker, host of the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI, Book Talk. First appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers 5/1/2012, reprinted with permission.
Discover: A school story filled with fun pranks and a lot of heart, making it an appealing choice for both girls and boys.