The Red Blazer Girls

Posted February 29, 2012 by Tara in Review, Uncategorized /// 6 Comments

I love the pulp-feel of this cover. It's actually the reason I bought the book.

The Red Blazer Girls
by Michael Beil
Scholastic
Audio book from public library/
Purchased from Scholastic Book Fair
[#17 in my 75 Book Challenge]

Sophie, Margaret, and Becca are three normal seventh grade girls attending a normal Catholic school (St. Veronica’s) in New York City. One day they stumble upon an old woman with a puzzle to solve — a puzzle created twenty years before for her estranged daughter. The puzzle was never solved and Mrs. Harriman enlists the girls to go on the adventure and recover the hidden prize at the end.

The puzzles in the book range from word problems to literature trivia and math equations, and they are exactly appropriate for a bright middle school student. Unlike most of the books I read, this is quite solidly a middle grades novel. YA’s would be too mature for the story.

By far, I loved the characters the most. Sophie, Margaret, and Becca are normal girls that I would want to be friends with. They are bright, yes, but a little sassy and a little lost when it comes to boys. The narrator on the audio book, Tai Alexandra Ricci, nailed the voice and tone of the story without sounding too juvenile (unlike the obnoxious narrator in The Lightning Thief).

Final Grade:   C   While it was a cute story with likable characters, it didn’t blow my mind. I’m grading it as  C against other middle grades fiction, not against all fiction, since the novel knew so clearly which audience it wants to reach. There’s a very small portion of middle-class middle-school girls who would appreciate the novel, and they would love it. I am not a middle school girl anymore, so it fell a bit short for me. This is a short-ish review because I just don’t have much more to say!

Tara

Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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6 responses to “The Red Blazer Girls

  1. This sort of reminds me of an updated Nancy Drew – not really the same plot line but just a fun, mystery sort of book that challenges the reader as well. Even though it may not appeal to the masses, there’s always a group out there that’s begging for something written just for them. I think MG lit is growing right now and we’re going to start seeing a lot more good books written for this age group.

    • Miss Anderson

      I still don’t know how I feel about MG fiction. I often find it very bla. Hopefully you are right that it is growing and we’ll start seeing better selections. And yes, this book was a lot like a Nancy Drew for the 21st century.

  2. Like you, I find it difficult to get into a seventh graders mindset again! Excellent and worthy attempt at an honest review, however. I applaud your efforts, Miss Anderson!

    • Miss Anderson

      I can get into a high school mindset, but not middle school. Not like these girls…their lives are so sheltered!

  3. It IS hard to get into, but I enjoy telling myself that there are still kids out there who are that sheltered, ya know? Some days it feels like even the little ones are already jaded and ready to read whatever R rated material they can find. Inbetween is good, and maybe that’s why it’s so hard to get back to as an adult. It’s NOT innocent child/experimental older YA, it’s a little of both but not enough of either one to “click” again.

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