The Friendship Riddle by Megan Frazer Blakemore

Published by Bloomsbury USA 

Summary:  Ruth considers herself a lone wolf as she starts middle school minus her former best friend Charlotte.  Charlotte’s still around, but she’s hanging out with the popular Melinda these days.  When Ruth finds a mysterious origami envelope with a riddle inside it tucked into a library book, she wishes she could work on the mystery with Charlotte.  Instead, she tries to solve the first puzzle, and the subsequent ones it leads her to, by herself.  Slowly, reluctantly, she finds herself connecting with some of the other smart quirky kids in her class, and revealing the mystery she is working on to them.  A subplot about a school spelling bee pits Ruth against some of her new and former friends, with an exciting spelling showdown near the end.  By the time the mystery is solved and the spelling bee concluded, Ruth finds herself in the center of a close-knit group of new friends.  Grades 4-7.

Pros:  More of a middle school friendship story than a mystery, this story provides a good dose of sixth-grade angst liberally laced with humor, interesting characters, and some fun riddles to solve.

Cons:  Not so much of a con as a heads-up that both Ruth and Charlotte have same-sex parents; Ruth mentions her sperm-donor father.  There’s a funny, but lengthy, bra-shopping scene, and a few other middle school topics to be aware of if recommending this book to an elementary school student.

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