Saturday, July 2, 2011

Girl's Best Friend by Leslie Margolis

Girl's Best Friend by Leslie Margolis
Bloomsbury, 2010

Dogs are suddenly going missing in Maggie Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, and she's on the case. As an after school dog walker (a secret job her parents don't know about), she's in the perfect position to figure out what's happening to these dogs, especially when her ex-best friend's dog also disappears. But what will happen when it starts to look like the boy she's crushing on might be involved?

I expected a good mystery; I got so much more and really ended up loving this book. Maggie is a fun and likable character, and while the mystery will keep readers guessing, this is also simply a great story about middle school. Margolis perfectly captures that changing time between being a little kid and a teenager. When Maggie and her twin brother celebrate their twelfth birthdays with a party, she says,
"Turning twelve means you're too old to have a party organized by your parents - with activities and games and goodie bags - and too young to know what you're supposed to be doing at a party when no one is organizing it for you. " (p. 68)
And my favorite example comes when Maggie is talking about not being ready to confide in a friend about her crush.
"I hadn't told Sonya yet, either, even though we've been good friends since the third grade and great friends since the beginning of sixth. I can't because of the unicorns. She's really into them and I have this theory: you can love unicorns or you can love boys, but you cannot love unicorns and boys." (p.79)
That, is perfection. And true. And it's one of the reasons I love this book. The voice is so spot-on, in the way distinguishes between the girls being good friends and then becoming great friends.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Maggie's take on Nancy Drew, whose books she never read, because everything just seemed to perfect.
"Nancy's whole world was one gigantic lovefest, but real life is messier. It's filled with clueless twin brothers and best friends who turn evil and mysterious dognappers and crushes who hardly know you exist and who won't even take out both earbuds to listen to what you have to say." (p. 123)
That's a perfect example of what you get with this book - a sometimes messy look at life and middle school with realistic characters and issues (even though not every seventh-grader is going to be out searching for dognappers.) And I love the line that follows, where Maggie puts her Nancy Drew issues aside because she's not "looking for a great read", she's "looking to solve a mystery."

Maggie has a great website, which has lots of fun features, including a cool map of her neighborhood with various places from the book highlighted.

Highly recommended; I can't wait for more books about Maggie Brooklyn!

Reviewed from purchased copy

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