Sydney A. Frankel loves to read. Her mother insists that she take a summer class in anything but reading in order to broaden her horizons and gain self-confidence. Sydney’s friend, Maggie, loves to dance. Her mother insists that she take a summer class in reading because she needs the practice. What are two bright, determined, creative rising sixth-graders to do? Switch identities at the community center where the summer programs are held, of course. Sydney attends Maggie’s reading class; Maggie attends the dance class in Sydney’s stead. Naturally, the plan leads to a complex comedy of errors involving other kids, teachers, and, ultimately, parents.
Complications include a new sibling for Sydney, a wise bubbe, a crush, a missing pet turtle, and a looming end-of-year program showcasing the accomplishments of all the children in the summer program, with parents and even grandparents invited. Sydney and Maggie learn some important lessons about developing new strengths and also about the values of owning up to actions, being honest, and accepting responsibility.
This amusing romp with its twisty plot and its sparkling writing teaches these lessons with a light touch and a large helping of humor. The easy-to-read chapter book format is inviting. Readers will be both entertained and enlightened.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.