"'...a good year for 11-year-old baby elephants.'"
11-year-old 6th-grader Claudia Harper's best friend is younger and a boy, 8-year-old Duffy Booth. She sees nothing wrong with this, but her parents do. They're glad that Janice Irby is moving back to town after 2 years away; maybe Claudia and Janice will resume their friendship. Claudia is somewhat interested, but the first time she visits Janice, she sees how much her friend has changed--and suspects that it was Janice's mom who invited her over, not Janice. And when she receives an invitation to Janice's upcoming party, she knows Mrs. Irby made Janice invite her. Later, Janice changes the party plan to include a factor that would guarantee Claudia's exclusion! What else can Claudia do but call her bluff and not just borrow the required object, but THREE of them? Of course Duffy assists her with this plan--he, at least, is loyal.
Why, Claudia wonders, can't her mom see the good things about Duffy? Why is "a younger boy" all she sees? That's like asking why Janice had to change so much in just 2 years. There are a lot of such questions floating around lately. But one thing that eases Claudia's growing pains is a special project she has, a sort of community-service/being-neighborly thing that she keeps from her parents--it's just a secret good deed. On which Duffy sometimes tags along. But sometimes it's a good thing he's there too.
The new school year brings hassles with Janice and her new friend Polly; a wild Halloween catastrophe; and a few surprise encounters with other classmates. Will Claudia ever get the hang, and the better, of growing up?
The Scholastic edition I have boasts cover art, and 1 inside illustration, by Ethel Gold, who has illustrated many stories for HIGHLIGHTS magazine. She also did the cover art for Carol Ryrie Brink's TWO ARE BETTER THAN ONE.
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