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Friday, June 19, 2009

"Solving Zoe" by Barbara Dee

"Solving Zoe" by Barbara Dee is full of preteen angst. The eponymous Zoe is a sixth grader who notices a new boy. This boy tends to keep to himself, and he hunches over a notebook full of scribbles. Zoe's best friend becomes distant when she obtains a leading role in the school play; her new clique is made up of mostly actresses-to-be. The boy silently observes the disturbances between Zoe and her supposed best friend. Trying to make her open her eyes, he takes action. What he does not only gets Zoe in trouble but also puts her further away from her friends. In the end, however, there is a bittersweet, happy ending--the reader is relieved, but not so much as to make it unrealistic.

Older readers might find this book slightly predictable. However, for preteens, the story is engrossing and highly relatable. Young ones get even more enthralled when animals come into play. Additionally, there are puzzles involved in the plot. The reader can try their hand at decoding them. There is even an answer key in the back if they get stumped. Overall, this book is great for young readers. It depicts middle school life, without the graphic nature of most preteen sitcoms.

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