The Popularity Papers – Amy Ignatow
Amulet Books - 978-0810984219
M: Julie I must confess, I didn't want to like this book. At first glance, I thought it looked like a female version of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID--which I'm a bit over-saturated with, given all the movie talk and so on, even though I haven't read it. So when I saw THE POPULARITY PAPERS, I thought, "Oh no, what has Julie gotten me into now?" But I was wrong! I too laughed out loud on the subway and snickered as I read about these two very earnest and adorable girls trying to figure out what the secret code for popularity is. I loved that popularity was something strange and in need of "serious" anthropological research (like it was another culture altogether! Which it sort of is). It showed just how silly and shallow a lot of it is. By the end I didn't even mind the weird glances I got from the other subway riders.
J: Oh, I'm so glad you liked it! I felt a little nervous recommending it to you--partly because of the title. I can't help wishing they'd named it something else. The truth is, I have a visceral reaction against spending money and time on a book that so trumpets a fixation on popularity. But of course that fixation can be a big part of growing up, even if I wish it weren't. It's certainly a common theme in middle-grade novels. And, ultimately, the book paints a nicely complicated picture of popularity. So I've decided to get over it. Were you bothered by the title?
M: You know, at first I was going to say no, I wasn't bothered by it; but then I remembered that I did have an initial, "What is this about?" reaction when I heard the title. Good thing I stuck to my "give every book a chance" rule, or I would've missed out on this enjoyable read! So I guess...don't judge a book by its cover OR its title?
J: I'll work on that! Now that I've gone on and on about the title, let me just add one or two more positives to our list: THE POPULARITY PAPERS is *very* fun to read aloud to kids. I've had many, many requests for readings from my daughters, who have also each spent much time enjoying it on their own. And the overall design is very fun. Mia, anything to add, positive or negative?
M: No! Overall I would say to our readers, give this book a try!