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*The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter* by Kristen Tracy - middle grades nonfiction book review
Also by Kristen Tracy:

Bessica Lefter Bites Back

Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus...
The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter
by Kristen Tracy
Ages 9-13 320 pages Delacorte January 2011 Hardcover    

Eleven-year-old Bessica Lefter’s life is changing in many ways. She’s always done everything with her best friend, Sylvie, who is a bit of a follower.

Now that they are about to start a new middle school where they hardly know anyone, Bessica insists that they both reinvent themselves. So the girls dump their elementary school collaborative diary down a hole at a construction site and get their hair cut pixie style.

The problem is, Sylvie really wanted to keep the diary, and looks terrible in a pixie cut. Now Sylvie’s mom has transferred her to a different middle school, and Bessica is all alone starting a new school.

The other anchor in Bessica’s life is her grandmother, who has lived with Bessica and her parents for a few years. Now Grandma has a new boyfriend and is embarking on a six-week vacation in a motor home, leaving Bessica just when she is starting middle school. Bessica wants Grandma to find another boyfriend, so she reactivates her online dating account and responds to a few of the inquiries on Grandma’s behalf.

Middle school is a miserable place for Bessica. She wants to make friends but really doesn’t know how. Everywhere she goes, there is a problem. She is constantly getting in trouble with the student hall monitor, can’t find anyone to sit with in the lunch room and ends up getting her food from a vending machine and hanging out near the school loners “alts.” One day she even gets sent to the principal’s office.

Bessica’s only hope is to make the cheerleading squad; then she will automatically have people to sit with at lunch. The problem: she doesn’t have the handspring and other gymnastics skills to make the squad.

Grandma advises her by telephone to visualize her success and “live large,” but Bessica isn’t sure how to do this - until she decides to tryout as the school mascot. In the end, a gift from grandma helps Bessica reach out, find her place in middle school and accept a friend she never thought she could.

Readers will find The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter is a very fun, especially for young girl readers who cannot wait to become teenagers. Although the author portrays middle school as a bit scarier than it really is, the insecurities of the main character and the stereotypes of the other students do ring true. Just when you think Bessica’s troubles in middle school will never end, that’s when things start to look up.

The book provides a strong message about accepting change, making the most of new situations, being yourself and trying new activities.
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  Kristine Wildner/2011 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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