Readers of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid will likely enjoy The Boy Problem: Notes and Predictions of Tabitha Reddy by Kami Kinard. While it doesn’t have the plethora of pictures, it has relevance and ‘tween appeal in its plot. Tabitha Reddy, who believes in signs and clues, thinks it’s possible to predict the future and that wishing on a star increases the likelihood of that wish’s coming true. Her BFF, Kara McAllister disagrees, saying: “Nothing helps your wishes come true unless YOU do something yourself” (11). She encourages Tabitha, who is in search of a boyfriend, to be proactive.
The social scenes and peer conflicts that Kinard creates at Spring Valley Middle School are so true to life that older readers are bound to revisit their junior high years. Über-obsessed with her dilemma, Tabbi depends on fortune cookies, various games, a Magic 8 Ball, a Cootie Catcher, a Faceplace survey, a probability project in algebra, and a fortune teller to predict her next love. This obsession forms the central conflict of the novel.
Despite the drama, the rampant self-interest, and the popularity contests that inundate the lives of middle-schoolers, Kinard also reveals the depth of concern for others that can characterize these early teen years. When Tabbi learns that a hurricane has struck the tiny town in New England where her Uncle Mike, Aunt Sally, and cousin Maddie live, she is inspired to action. From her compassion—and that of friends Kara and Pri, Cupcakes for Catastrophes (C4C) is born—a fundraising effort to rebuild her cousin’s school library. The cupcake sales progress positively until Maybelline moves in on their turf and starts a war with a surprising outcome.
Amidst all her struggles to reach her boyfriend-finding goal, Tabbi learns some extremely important lessons:
- “It’s hard to move forward when you’re carrying around the extra weight of a grudge” (111).
- “Just because something worse happens somewhere else doesn’t make it less painful when something bad happens to you” (199-200).
- “I have myself, my friends, my family, and a house that smells like chocolate. What more could a girl want?” (200).
- Posted by Donna