We Recommend: A Regular Girl, from “Now”

t's We Recommend, in which we use our superpowers to find readers the perfect book. Got a kid who needs a recommendation?
Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age,
reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant)
information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good
suggestions are in the comments.

Hold onto your hats, everyone, this might hurt your feelings a bit.

See, this one came in the form of a conversation, like so:

Here is what my 9-and-a-half year old just asked:

Mom, is there a book that is about a normal girl who is about my age or a
little older–5th or 6th grade–who has adventures but not problems so
much, kind of like Ramona (but I've read all those)

ME: How about Harriet the Spy?

D; I meant a modern girl, like from now.

ME: Harriet the Spy is from now.

D: Mom, no she's not. I mean like Ivy & Bean, except no offense but Ivy & Bean isn't well-written.

Got me stumped. You?

Ok, first let's get some things straight. Ramona the Pest and Harriet the Spy are from more or less the same historical period. Ramona was first published in 1968, Harriet the Spy in 1964. So we'll just see who's calling who not from now, missy!

But, at the same time…yeah. I mean, Harriet the Spy was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. And that may have had something to do with the fact that her life made some sort of sense to me. But now? I don't know, I think the absence of cell phones, googling—it's got to be noticeable to a kid.

So even though this made me think of a lot of "normal girl" novels—like, say, all of Judy Blume, and the Betsy-Tacy books—I will try to honor the desire for someone from now. Because while those are amazing (I think she would LOVE Betsy-Tacy), they are not, by any stretch, from now.

I turned, as I do, to Chestnut and Diana. Chestnut considered the Cobble Street Cousins. But, to address another sore point, I think her aversion to Ivy & Bean is more about its simplicity than any alleged poor writing. Though it could be that we just have different tastes. I will just put it out there that I, personally, find Ivy & Bean a delight to read (within reason). Then again, I have an aversion to the whole nomenclature of "well written" that is too complicated and weird to go into here. So I will just say: we think not, on the Cobble Street Cousins, as it might be too easy for her.

Which got me to thinking about Amber Brown. My hesitation? "not problems so much" Amber Brown has some problems, sort of? Hmm. And so, we came to this:


OK, yes: the first of the Anastasia books was written in 1979. But! There are more! There are lots! And one was written as recently as 1995! Yeesh. Maybe it should be Amber Brown? Still—I think she would like this.

Help me out, youth of today! Got anything more recent?

15 thoughts on “We Recommend: A Regular Girl, from “Now”

  1. Ooh! Saffy’s Angel, by Hillary McKay (or maybe Mackay). And all of the other Casson family books in that series. Also, the Penderwicks.
    For graphic novels, The Popularity Papers are great.


  2. I agree she would or should like Betsy Tacy. If not, what about Allie Finkle? http://alliefinkle.scholastic.com/
    My favorite series that year was Judy Bolton – looks like The Vanishing Shadow is still available.
    Star Spangled Summer by Janet Lambert?
    Tale of Emily Windsnap?
    Would she like the girls in Arthur Ransome’s books? There is thoughtful Dorothea as well as tomboy Nancy Blackett.


  3. Penderwicks! Absolutely.
    I am now going to venture into waters that are untested by me the mother. But my 10 year old daughter likes Ten and Eleven (The Winnie Books by Lauren Myracle) as well as the “I Love You Bunches” series by the same author.


  4. I third, or fourth, or whatever, the Penderwicks! Four girls, rather than one, definitely modern, and she’s sure to find one to identify with. My now 11-year-old has read them so often she pretty much has all three memorized.


  5. Maybe The Higher Power of Lucky, and other books about Lucky, by Susan Patron? http://www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/lucky_breaks.html
    The Grand Plan to Fix Everything is good, though she does move to India. http://www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/grand_plan.html
    Also, maybe: The Great Wall of Lucy Wu http://www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/great_wall_of_lucy_wu.html
    Or: Penny Dreadful http://www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/penny_dreadful.html


  6. This is unread by me, but both of my daughters loved…LOVED the Mainstreet series by Ann Martin. I have no idea if they are Ramona or Judy Blume good, but they whipped through those books in record time and then started rereading them immediately.


  7. The Mallory McDonald books by Laurie Friedman–I haven’t read them, but they’re very popular with the third and fourth grade girls at my kids’ schhool.
    and also Dessert First by Hallie Durand (and its sequels)


  8. From the Mixed Up Filed of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler. It was published in 1967 but I don’t remember it being that dated (though it has been a while).
    Not a girl main character, but The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is good.
    Unless she is an advanced reader, When You Reach Me may be a bit of a stretch. But a good title to think of next year.
    Kiki Strike is good, and I don’t think the problems are too overwhelming but again it depends on how advanced the reader.
    Other suggestions:
    Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Moving Day (first title in series)
    Millicent Min, Girl Genius


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