The Dragon Whistler

The Dragon Whistler
Now available in paperback.


How Not To Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler (YA)

High school -- definitely the time and place to be obsessed with what every one else thinks about you -- and to do whatever's necessary in order to be accepted by the most popular group. Right? Not so much. At least, not when it comes to HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR by Jennifer Ziegler (Delacorte, 2008).

Maggie Dempsey's earthy-crunchy parents are to blame, of course. Some might call them "hippies." (Maggie calls them by their first names and they call her Sugar Magnolia). Her parents have moved her around the country her entire life. Not ideal for nurturing long-term relationships, this nomad lifestyle causes heartbreak for the last time when Maggie is forced to leave her Portland, Oregon boyfriend behind for the muggy heat of Austin, Texas. At least, no more heartbreak is the plan.

Deciding to do everything she can NOT to fit in at her new school, Maggie vows to bubble-wrap her heart by not making friends in the first place (especially the boy kind). Raiding the racks at her parents' thrift shop, she puts together the most horrendous outfits imaginable. She eats lunch with the social outcasts and basically acts completely opposite of how she thinks she should, positive this will have any would-be friendlies sprinting in the opposite direction. No friends = no heartbreak the next time the suitcases come out of the closet.

There's only one slight problem. Maggie's efforts are attracting the wrong kind of attention. Her classmates aren't avoiding her (okay, some of them are, but only because they're jealous that she's becoming something of a trend-setter). In fact, it seems trying NOT to be popular might just be the easiest way to rockstar popularity ever. But when hanging with the uncool kids turns into more than just a stunt to ensure complete ostracization, Maggie learns true friendship is just what she needs.

I really connected with Maggie at the midway point and totally loved her. Maybe I saw a little something of myself in her (no doubt many readers do), and have to tell you I read the last few chapters with sopping wet cheeks. Ziegler has created a story that's relatable, fun, touching and joyful -- and captures the essence of a town that treasures it's "weirdness."

Absolutely going to add her latest, SASS AND SERENDIPITY to my TBR list.

Fo 8th graders and up.

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