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Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers' Favorite
School Dance by Janice Spina is book one in the new series, Abby & Holly. Some readers might already know the two girls from one of the author’s earlier books: they were first introduced in Book 5 of the Davey & Derek Junior Detectives Series. However, you do not need any knowledge of that novel to understand what is happening in the new series. I never read the other book, and had no issues with understanding and enjoying the girls’ story. Abby and Holly are excited because the sixth grade school dance will be soon. They are wondering whether twin boys Derek and Davey will invite them to go with them, but soon they discover a bigger problem. A girl called Justine is being bullied in the meanest way – a way which threatens her health and mental well-being at the same time. The two girls decide to become friends with Justine and find a solution to the situation so that everyone can enjoy the ball. But it seems like the bullies have come up with a new plan just a few days before the ball!
While School Dance by Janice Spina is obviously aimed at younger readers, I did enjoy the light, but quite serious read. It took me back to my own school time, but bullying then was something nobody every really talked about. And not much was done about it. So it’s delightful to see books like this in which the characters make sure that one message comes across: Bullying, no matter the reason, is not okay. The story encourages kids to be brave and stand up for the victims, and it shows that everyone will have a lot more fun if they all just get along. The language and reading level is suitable for pre-teens and young teenagers. The topics will feel familiar to them and it will be easy for kids to be drawn into the plot. It’s also clever to use a bigger font and many white spaces to create a book that makes kids feel like they have read a couple hundred pages. It will feel like an achievement to them, and will encourage them to tackle even more books.