I read the cutest book this week! It is for middle grades, and if you have a fifth or sixth grader, he or she will probably like it. Hot Ticket, the first book in a trilogy, was written by Tracy Marchini, and before I begin my review, I want to share with you a little disclaimer:
My daughter, Shanley Belle, is Tracy Marchini's intern. She asked me to read Hot Ticket and write a post about it along with many other book bloggers. This post is my honest opinion about the book, and may or may not reflect my daughter's opinion. You can visit Tracy's blog here, and make sure to say hello to Shanley while you are there. Shanley posts her Saturday Roundup most weeks on Tracy's blog.
Fifth grade did not prepare Juliet Robinson for John Jay Jr. High (Triple J for short). Everyone who is anyone has received at least one hot ticket, but not Juliet. Authentic hot tickets are two inch by six inch rectangles made from orange cardboard, with HOT TICKET written in big bold letters at the top. Written on each hot ticket is an explanation for why the ticket dispenser is awarding the recipient the hot ticket. The counterfeit hot tickets are not prized, and are usually thrown away; it's sixth grade, after all, so there are bound to be copycats. Hot tickets are rewarded for a job well done: excellent joke delivery, witty comeback, best cartwheel the school has ever seen, or the cutest boots *ever*. The antithesis of the hot ticket is the shame ticket. As predicted, they are coveted perhaps even more so than the hot tickets with the developing sixth grade counterculture. Juliet has not received a shame ticket, either. She is defeated, and she can't imagine how the ticket dispenser can dismiss her for a shame ticket because she has become a permanent fixture in Principal Kim's office. Ironically, Principal Kim suspects that Juliet is all up in the hot ticket "distraction," and she wants the hot ticket distribution to stop.
Juliet is now on a mission. She wants to discover who the mysterious ticket dispenser is, and she wants to know why she is the only sixth grader at Triple J who has not been given a ticket. Juliet is ashamed that almost everyone has hot tickets hanging from their backpacks, and it pains her to see Cindy Newsome and her crew sporting multiple hot tickets on their backpacks. Cindy is mean, and she hates Juliet for no reason. Not really. Plus, she certainly is not going down for something that has not benefitted her at all. Juliet decides to enlist the help of her best friend, Lucy, her new "boyfriend," Steve "Crammit" Gibson, and her new friend, Madeline Newsome, Cindy Newsome's stepsister. Cindy is high on Juliet's list of suspects, so Madeline is in the perfect position to spy for Juliet.
Hot Ticket brilliantly depicts the social intricacies of sixth grade. The cliques, traditional school cheers, awkward sixth grade dances, do-I-like-him-more-than-a-friend thoughts, embarrassing social faux pas, and the devastation of being left out all contribute to the mood of the story. I admire Juliet's spunk and grace under fire. The ending of the story is perfect; we all would love for our middle schoolers to survive if not thrive just like Juliet. I highly recommend this fun story for your middle grade readers, and you could read it right along with them. The book will certainly foster some interesting discussions between you and your child.
Until next time...