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Monday, November 22, 2010


School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–As a blizzard bears down on New York City just in time for Valentine’s Day, a storm of a different kind is brewing in the apartment building above Chen’s Kitchen. Seventh-graders Olivia, Kate, and Georgia are best friends who are struggling to find common ground as their relationship begins to change. Olivia has liked Phillip Becker-Jacobs for two years, and she records everything he does and wears in her Observation Notebook. Kate flits from crush to obsessive crush, and Georgia stays quiet to avoid letting her secrets slip, even to her best friends. An unexpected snow day offers the girls a chance to reconnect by baking “magic” fortune cookies designed to help everyone in their building feel loved. As they deliver the treats, they discover many truths: about boys, parents, and one another. Greenwald’s second foray into the drama that is seventh grade delivers more than is implied by its saccharine title. The lives of the well-formed characters come alive against the backdrop of a New York City building where neighbors are strangers. Fortune-cookie fortunes become the plot’s catalyst, as chapters alternate among Olivia, Kate, and Georgia, offering readers varied perspectives on the events. This is a title that mothers and daughters can confidently read together without major blushing.–Colleen S. Banick, Tomlinson MiddleSchool, Fairfield, CT
Seventh-grade Brooklyn neighbors Olivia, Georgia, and Kate are BFFs, even though they are very different. Olivia is introspective and observant, Georgia is quiet and timid, and Kate is outgoing and bossy. Together, they hope that Valentine’s Day will finally bring some developments with their crushes, but their plans are frustrated when a for-once-unwelcome snow day keeps the girls at home. Then Georgia’s mom teaches them a famously secret fortune-cookie recipe, and the day unfolds unexpectedly after the girls decide to distribute cookies to neighbors. Primarily set over one day, the story features the characters’ engaging, alternating narratives and distinct personalities and provides intimate, lively explorations of well-drawn themes, from family and friend troubles to growing self-awareness and the challenges and joys of connecting with others and building a community. The trio’s romantic ups and downs tie the story together, but this is also an affectionate, insightful ode to friendship. An enjoyable, sure-to-be popular read. Grades 5-8. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publishers Weekly
In a lighthearted story about the ups and downs of friendship, Greenwald (My Life in Pink & Green) again proves that she has an insightful eye (and pen) when it comes to the minds of tween girls. Three dissimilar but tight-knit seventh graders--nosy Olivia, high-strung Kate, and reserved Georgia--who live on the seventh floor of a Brooklyn apartment building, find themselves trapped and restless on a snowed-in Valentine's Day. They hatch a plan to deliver homemade fortune cookies to their neighbors, hoping to bring some camaraderie to the building. As the day progresses, though, they only succeed in annoying each other. Greenwald alternates among the three girls as narrators, skillfully showing how insignificant frustrations can lead to big meltdowns. The girls' voices are distinct; outgoing Kate, for example, often laments about Olivia's multiyear-obsession with a boy: "he needed to know she had gone off the deep end." All's well that end's well, and the girls not only get closer by the last page but revel in seeing their neighbors do the same. Ages 10–14. (Nov.)

Kirkus Reviews
Seventh-grade friends Olivia, Georgia and Kate can’t wait for Valentine’s Day. Olivia hopes that Phillip Becker-Jacobs, the constant subject of her Observation Notebook, will give her a handmade valentine; Kate is convinced her latest crush will ask her out; and Georgia is looking forward to a special dinner at Chen’s Kitchen, her family’s restaurant. When a blizzard disrupts their Valentine’s Day plans, the girls, stuck in their Brooklyn apartment building, try to salvage the day by making fortune cookies in Chen’s Kitchen and delivering them to their reclusive neighbors. Olivia, Georgia and Kate hope the treats will spread some cheer and bring everyone together, but as the day progresses, they find their friendship falling apart, and the building feels as lonely as ever. Olivia has always believed there’s a bit of magic in Chen’s Kitchen’s cookies, and that’s exactly what the girls need to stop Valentine’s Day from being a complete disaster. As told in their alternating voices, Olivia, Georgia and Kate’s escapades—filled with nosy parents, pesky siblings and plenty of boy drama—will resonate with young teens. The story is as sweet as the treats the girls dole out. (Fiction. 10-14)

Children's Literature

When a blizzard closes school on Valentine's Day, best friends Olivia, Kate, and Georgia are determined to make the best of their day. Together they make fortune cookies and distribute the cookies to their neighbors in the apartment building. As the girls meet new neighbors and discuss all their problems, they begin to look at their own relationships with one another. Observant Olivia has a long-time crush on a boy, called PBJ, who has never spoken to her. Outgoing Kate longs to be part of the in-crowd and desperately wants to spend time with Brendan. Shy Georgia has a secret crush on a family friend, Kevin. Olivia worries that she is losing her friends when Kate suddenly tears a page from Olivia's precious observation journal. Kate wants desperately to find Brendan which makes both Georgia and Olivia think Kate no longer wants to be their friend. Georgia is distraught when she learns that Olivia found a paper on which Georgia wrote about her crush on Kevin, the family friend. As the day continues and the girls spread Valentine cheer with their cookies, all three learn each others' secrets and fears. At the end of the day, each girl, in her own way, recognizes the fortune of true friendship. Told in alternating first-person point of view, the author creates a fast-paced, angst-filled, middle grade novel within which a reader may see a glimpse of herself. Reviewer: Jody Little

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