No matter how many times you tell yourself not everyone will like your book, it still doesn't prepare you for when you see it in print. GOSSIP was recently reviewed by both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I'm very happy to say that the Kirkus review is awesome. I was thrilled when I read it! With Publishers Weekly, well, it was very much the opposite. But how fair would it be if I only posted the good review here? With the good, comes the bad. Unfortunately. And yes, I know, I need to get thicker skin. I'm sure there will be many bumpy roads ahead.
Aspiring blogger Sofia longs to make it big within her school’s blogosphere, thereby improving her “popularity meter” rating. The sixth-grade sleuth spends her time lurking in the farthest stalls of the girls’ room, eavesdropping in her quest for the latest scoop, and is not above an occasional snide online remark about her arch-nemesis, Mia St. Claire. Sofia’s “pre-blogging journal” covers one tumultuous month as she navigates the rough waters of social status, the monotony of Life Science class and the ultimate embarrassment of her mother’s new position as the substitute Spanish teacher at her school. When faced with the biggest news of her career, Sofia must decide how far she is willing to go in her pursuit of popularity. Cooper keenly captures Sofia’s quintessential preteen voice: spunky and full of a blustering bravado meant to mask her vulnerability. Sofia’s experiences, recorded in faux–hand printing on lined paper, and the many hilarious sketches scattered throughout the journal will garner groans and laughs from readers. (Fiction. 9-13)
The first book in debut author Cooper's Blogtastic! series is structured as the "Pre-Blogging Notebook" of sixth-grader Sofia Becker, a gossip collector with a hyperactive imagination. Printed on faux lined paper and decorated with Sophia's stick-figure doodles, the story follows Sofia as she gathers fodder for her anonymous blog by hiding out and eavesdropping at school ("I have very genius-like planned my schedule around being super-discreet in the girls' room, the cafeteria, and other gossip-infested places, every chance I get"). The main drama involves Sofia's obsession with popularity, her suspicion that popular Mia St. Claire is stealing her crush, and her feeble attempts at matchmaking. Readers will quickly get that it's Sofia, not Mia, who is the raging egomaniac, and Sofia learns the expected lessons (mostly) that come with making assumptions and trashing one's peers. Both in format and in its morality-challenged protagonist, this book aims for a Wimpy Kid vibe, but Sofia's cartoons add little, her tone grates, and her personality is one-note--Cooper never really gets inside the heads of her characters, Sofia included. Ages 10–up. (Jan.)