Hundred Percent

Jackie decides to rename her best friend. "Tink" (short for tiny Tinker Bell) no longer fits the tall sixth-grader who is, embarrassingly, "getting a figure." Two weeks into the school year, her classmates still aren't catching on to her new nickname, "Chris," short for her real name, Christine Bernadette Gouda. She may just be stuck with Tink--or her other nickname, "Hundred Percent"--which refers to the fat content of Gouda cheese.

Identity is serious business in sixth grade, and Karen Romano Young (Doodlebug) captures that with uncanny accuracy in Hundred Percent, the story of two "boy-crazy" best friends trying to navigate who they are, what they wear, who they like, who likes them, and who is ready for what, be it first bra or kiss. Indeed, what distinguishes this engaging novel is the terrific dialogue and the way Young mirrors the seemingly small moments that loom large: a snub; being barked at or whistled at by boys; a Halloween costume gone awry ("Try it sometime. Dress as a big old realistic grown-up when your cute little friend is being something even more cute and little and totally unrealistic").

Tink is tuned in to every eye roll or raised eyebrow. Jackie's mom affectionately dubs her an "ambassador," "because you wonder about what other people might be thinking and act accordingly. Unlike some people, who only worry about what they're thinking." Moving the plot along are Tink's stalwart-but-evolving friendship with Jackie and her offbeat kinship with fellow goofball-cartoonist Bushwhack. Readers will cheer for the sensitive, brave, fierce Tink as she tries to discover, and ultimately honor, herself. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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