Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone by Margie Palatini: C

From the back cover:
Age: Eleven. Well, almost eleven. Backspace. Halfway to eleven.
Factoid: 198 days to sixth grade.
Problem: Coolability (see glossary inside).
Connect the dots: A bad hair situation… Growing earlobes…

1. A fairy godmother.
2. A molto chic makeover [molto = very in Italian].
3. A seat at the primo lunch table. [Primo is also Italian. It means best.]

Tune in!

Ten-year-old Zoey Zinevich is interested in all kinds of things, like big words, frogs, and presidential trivia. Mostly, though, she’s obsessed with the idea of achieving coolness by the start of sixth grade, and convinced that having better hair and the ability to accessorize like her popular classmates Brittany and Ashley will make her dreams come true. In this somewhat scatterbrained semi-journal, Zoey tells the story about how she managed to become cool without sacrificing her individuality.

It’s a decent message, but on the whole, I found the book to be annoying. Here are some possible reasons why.

1. I am way beyond the target age for this book. In fact, I am so old I could have given birth to someone old enough to babysit members of the intended audience.

2. Though I remember that prissy pretty girls were fairly abundant once I got to sixth grade and made me feel inadequate and schlubby, I still think it’s really sad that a ten-year-old is obsessing about her hair.

3. The writing style reminds me of my own pretentious high school journals, except where mine would devote a whole page to the word “gurg” or a drawing of a fish, Geek Chic employs the same technique using the word “Hair!” (with a spiky aura for emphasis). Palatini has many, many of these space-killing pages. At least this makes for an extremely quick read.

I don’t know. Maybe a geeky fifth-grader who’s insecure and wishing to be like everyone else might take something valuable away from this book. At my age, it’s the inherent charm of a children’s book that really gets me (see Betsy-Tacy), and that’s a quality in which Geek Chic is lacking.

More reviews of Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone can be found at Triple Take.

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