There Goes Christmas! How the Pops Stole Christmas (How I Survived Middle School) by Nancy Krulik
"Talk about being out of character!
I never sing in front of people. At least, not usually, but it was Christmastime, and I couldn't help myself.
It's almost winter vacation and Jenny is warbling away at "Jingle Bells" while she sorts donated coats for the poor in the gym with her friends. Almost at the end of her first semester at middle school, she can't wait for the break--sleeping late, shopping at the mall, skating with her friends. Nothing can spoil her holiday mood!
Nothing except Dana Harrison, the mean ringleader of the Pops--the main clique in their grade, who leads Jenny's ex-friend Addie around virtually by the nose.
"I wonder if I should even bother throwing this thing into the laundry bag," Dana says loudly, making sure that Jenny can hear every snide word. "It's not like you can dry clean away geekiness! Dana dramatically looks inside the coat and reads Jenny's name written on the inside tag. Addie, Claire, Sabrina, and Maya think Dana's sarcasm is hilarious and howl with laughter.
Suddenly all of Jenny's goodwill disappears and she's both hurt and fuming. Then, in her first period class, Mrs. Jaffe announces that they are going to draw for their Secret Snowflake partner to whom they are to give small handmade gifts every day before the break, and of course Jenny draws Dana's name. It seems that the Pops have an insidious way of spoiling even her Christmas spirit.
And things only get worse for her winter break plans. Her friend Sam announces that he's going to be away visiting family in England for the entire holiday, and then Mark invites all the others--but not Jenny--to his New Year's party. Is this going to be a bummer of a break after all?
How The Pops Stole Christmas (How I Survived Middle School Super Special) (Scholastic, 2009), Nancy Krulik's latest in her middle school saga series, How I Survived Middle School, continues Jenny's story as she navigates the sometimes high drama of best friends and snobby cliques in her first year at Joyce Kilmer Middle. The characterizations and setting are recognizable to everyone who's ever made that middle passage through school, and Jenny's common sense, resilience, and the loyalty of her friends, both boys and girls, always see her through the rough spots.
In another wintertime tale of Joyce Kilmer Middle, Jenny finds herself chairing the winter dance committee with ex-BFF Addie, who promises to guarantee an appearance by pop star Cory Tucker at the dance and then finds she can't deliver. Jenny has to decide if she should help cover for her once-good friend or let Addie, er, face the music (or lack thereof) on her own. And in It's All Downhill From Here (How I Survived Middle School), not only does Jenny find her mom has invited Addie to spend an entire snow day at her house, but she then learns that Addie and Dana are finagling to spoil the upcoming class ski trip as well.
Girls in middle school or just approaching that transition time will definitely get Jenny's dilemma of being caught between old and new friends. This series makes a light, funny, but realistic stocking stuffer for 'tweener readers at Christmas.