Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Review: "Dear Pen Pal" by Heather Vogel Frederick

For the mother-daughter book club, everything changes in eighth grade.

Could the book club break up? When Jess is offered an anonymous scholarship to a prestigious boarding school, she's not sure that leaving home -- and her friends -- is what she wants to do. Meanwhile Megan's grandmother comes for a long visit and turns everything in the Wong household upside down; Emma crusades against her middle school's new uniforms; and Cassidy finds out there's a big change ahead for her family.

Inspired by Jess's unexpected opportunity, the book club decides to read Jean Webster's classic Daddy-Long-Legs, and there's an added twist this year when they become pen pals with the girls in a book club in Wyoming. There's plenty to write to their new friends about, from a prank-filled slumber party to a not-so-secret puppy -- and even a surprise first kiss.

In this third book in the beloved Mother-Daughter Book Club series, the girls learn that as long as they have one another -- and a good book -- they're ready for whatever eighth grade has in store!

This is probably my favorite tween series that is out there. I absolutely adore the characters, the storylines, the setup of the entire series. It's one of the few series where I wish I could literally dive in the story and become a character. It combines everything that I love in a great book: a cast of characters that's totally multi-dimensional and loves to read, food, friends and fun. It's a recipe guaranteed for success, at least in my opinion.

There's lots of humor in this book and I laughed out loud quite a few times. Also featured in the book are the awkward feelings that thirteen year old girls face, which I remember sadly all too well. The author does a wonderful job at portraying this without getting too sappy or uncomfortable. At the same time though, the writing is easy to read and just keeps you wanting to turn pages. I really like seeing how both the girls and their moms have changed since the beginning of the series. The mother-daughter relationships are just as important as the girls' friendship and it is interesting to see how different and unique each bond is. I was also pleased to see some Chinese culture come into play with Megan's grandmother.

I will admit, I had never heard of Daddy Long Legs before reading this book but now I totally want to read it! It's always great to hear about new books and from the talk in this book, this sounds like a great children's classic that I missed out on. The FAQ sheets that are handed out at the book club meetings serve as a plus for the readers who want to learn more about the author and how they wrote the book.

I'm wondering if we'll be getting a first person section from Becca in the following books. I am really impressed at how she's matured since the first book and has now become part of the gang. I'm also glad to see that the other girls do not hold grudges against her. These girls are very mature for their age and it's nice to see them act responsible. At the same time though, they still act like kids which is perfectly fine. It's such a refreshing change from books like The Clique series, where the characters there are acting like miniature wannabe adults.

I cannot wait until the next book in the series comes out. Honestly this is one of those books that I cannot find a single fault in. Everything in this book is truly wonderful and readers of all ages will enjoy it and be inspired to read the books mentioned in it as well. VERY HIGHLY recommended.

Dear Pen Pal by Heather Vogel Frederick is published by Simon and Schuster Children (2009)

This review copy was provided by the author


  1. I think I need to try these - Julie's crazy about them too.

  2. I love these too! Oh I just saw that Kathy wrote the same thing!


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