Published by Random House Books for Young Readers
Summary: When Piper’s dad gets a job at the exclusive Chumley Prep, he’s thrilled that Piper will be able to attend seventh grade at the school where her late mother was a star. Piper’s not so sure about going to school with all the rich, smart students at Chumley; she’s always thought of herself as someone who blends into the background. But when the Excelsior award is offered for the student who best exemplifies excellence during the winter term, Piper can’t help getting caught up in the excitement. Mean girl Ainsley is out to crush the competition, but Piper’s quirky but loyal new friends want to see someone from their group win for a change. Piper’s love for science seems like a path to set her apart, but life isn’t always fair at her new school. She finds herself having to choose between winning and doing the right thing for her new friends…and for herself. 224 pages; grades 3-6
Pros: Chris Grabenstein has a talent for writing funny, engaging stories that even reluctant readers enjoy, and this new offering, written with his wife, is sure to be popular. The message that kindness counts more than winning is one that teachers and parents will embrace as well.
Cons: Once again, I find myself feeling jaded; after reading a plethora of positive reviews, I found this story pretty predictable with a cast of characters (rich, snobby mean girl; quirky best friends; eccentric but kind teachers) one that I have seen more than once before.