EVERYBODY BUGS OUT for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I don’t normally search out books swarming with complicated sixth grade girls, but I had research to do. I wasn’t sure if I was nailing the tween female voice in some of my recent drafts. Two females and one male from my critique group had no 9781599905266problem with what I had written, but I still needed some examples. I had read quite a few novels with a female protagonist set in another time period and found this contemporary title staring back at me on the library shelf. Written from the POV of Annabelle, it looked like I had found my source, written by the talented Leslie Margolis.

This was actually the third book in the ‘Annabelle’ series (preceded by BOYS ARE DOGS and GIRLS ACTING CADDY. And followed by last year’s ONE TOUGH CHICK) and turned out to be a quick read. Frankly, I was exhausted with pages of dialog about who is wearing what and who likes who. Getting beyond the wardrobe choices, it centered around the first dance on Valentine’s weekend and the quest to get a date. The emotional ups and downs of this group of friends had me running around the block for a break several times (and I may have blacked out once or twice when the girls were shopping).

In the end I realized 4th-6th grade girls would love this story. It’s very realistic as to what occurs in many middle schools. It’s just too bad these kids have to grow up so fast. Our world has a way of causing that. Anyhow, it’s fun story for the target audience. As for me, I’m recovering with an old Michael Crichton adult novel.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):  Annabelle has tamed the wild boys and catty girls of middle school. Now it’s time for her first school dance! A couple of Annabelle’s friends already have dates and she would like one, too. Better yet, she finally has a crush on someone-Oliver. The problem? Claire also likes him, and she’s called dibs. To complicate things further, Annabelle has to work super closely with her secret crush on their science fair project! And it looks like one of their competitors is up to something shady. . . . If Annabelle says something, will Oliver respect her for it or think she’s a snitch? And will she ever understand what these junior-high boys are really thinking?


  1. The story revolves around a science fair. It was fun to read how Annabelle and her two partners came up with their idea. I learned a few things about bugs, too.
  2. Oliver is the center of attention for Annabelle and her friend. He’s a charming kid who shines in the way he avoids the drama swirling around him. He’s the crush and doesn’t know it.
  3. There was never a mention of racial differences other than Oliver came form Jamaica. It was refreshing that these kids treated everyone with respect no matter what color you happened to be.
  4. Young readers will enjoy the fact parents and teachers took a back seat to the dialog and action. You are in the middle of Annabelle’s middle school world that shows only brief glimpses of adults.
  5. The cover is cute with the lady bugs in the shape of a heart with the fresh faced main characters underneath. The paperback version had several different versions with one leaving the kids out altogether.


…He’s also annoying and loud and sometimes a little smelly. Today, for example, he reeked of stale sweat. Last week it was ketchup.


Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...writing middle grade novels.
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10 Responses to EVERYBODY BUGS OUT for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like a fun book for younger middle graders. And that’s an awesome kind of research you needed to do.

  2. This sounds like a nice MG novel for that age group. It made me more curious about your research, though.

  3. Annie McMahon says:

    Complicated sixth-grade girls! Haha!! That made me laugh. I had one of those at home not so long ago. Now she’s entering eighth grade and becoming even more complicated! I like that the two kids are from different races on the cover. We don’t see that very often. This alone makes me want to read it.

  4. I hear you on dialogue–when it drones on too long I go crazy! adorable cover!

  5. What writers do for research! I’ll keep this in mind for my granddaughter, but will take a pass on reading it myself — unless I need to do some research. Thanks for the review.

  6. msyingling says:

    I’m tremendously irritated that this series changed the style of covers midway through, but I still want to read Monkey Business when it comes out in September! I’m not a huge fan of fashion and what not in books, but I am absolutely done with bullying, school dances, and student council elections! We don’t need any more books about any of those things! Glad you are doing research. It wl make a huge difference in the end!

  7. Pingback: A Year of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Are You Kidding? | Always in the Middle

  8. Johnk35 says:

    I really like your writing style, excellent info, thank you for putting up gdckabkdddcf

  9. Jemima says:

    I loved itttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt i read it…………..

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