Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Frosted Friendship: Just Grace and the Trouble with Cupcakes by Charise Mericle Harper


1. SUPERPOWERS (There could be games about different superpowers.) ME

2. CANDY (Every game could have something to do with a different candy.) MIMI

Candy was the best idea on the list. Best and favorite are not the same thing. My idea was still my favorite, but I knew candy was the idea our whole class was going to go crazy for.


I looked at Mimi and said, "If everyone likes your idea best, I'm not going to try to make my idea be the winner." Mimi smiled and said, "I won't say another word about my idea either."
"Pinky swear?" I said.  "Pinky swear," said Mimi, and we made it official.

It's almost school vacation and Just Grace is happy.  Grandma is coming for a weekend visit, and it's almost time for the high point of third grade, when Miss Lois' class gets to choose the theme of the school carnival. Grandma bustles in with the recipe for the "best cupcakes in the world" and she and Grace make up a huge batch.  Everyone, even Grace's best friend forever, Mimi, agrees that that they are the best cupcakes ever. Grace is sad when Grandma has to jet off for her tour of Paris, but she consoles herself with a secret breakfast cupcake and thoughts of planning the Fair with Mimi.

As  predicted, the class goes crazy over the idea of a candy-themed fair.  Mimi is smiling happily. But with cupcakes in her lunchbox and cupcakes on her brain, Grace can't believe what she does when Miss Lois calls on her.

Suddenly I thought of a new idea. It was something better than my superpowers idea.  It was something people loved maybe even more than candy. Without thinking about it, I put my hand in the air and shouted out what I was thinking.

Immediately Grace realizes what she has done. She's broken her promise to her best friend. Mimi will never trust her again.  Of course, the class joyfully jumps on the cupcake bandwagon, everyone, that is, except Mimi, who looks sadly down at her desk.

Grace is devastated at what she's done.  Mimi won't answer her calls, or walk to school with her, and Grace finds herself assigned to the planning group headed by Owen 1, her un-favorite boy in the whole class.   Now the wonderful school fair is ruined for her and she's stuck trying to think up a cupcake-themed carnival game with three people who aren't even her friends, while Mimi is laughing and and having fun with another group.

Grace has only one hope.  She carefully writes a letter of apology to Mimi and puts  it in a pretty box along with the last two of Grandma's World's Best Cupcakes.  She takes it over to Mimi's house, puts it by the front door, rings the doorbell, and runs away.  Now she has to wait and see if Mimi understands how sorry she is for breaking her promise.  But at school the next day, Mimi is still ignoring her. Can the school fair and the whole summer vacation ruined by three thoughtless words?

In her forthcoming latest in her best-selling Just Grace series, Just Grace and the Trouble with Cupcakes (The Just Grace Series) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) shows the importance of trust in a friendship and how easily it can be lost.  The breach of a close friendship is one of the rites of passage in the elementary years, and with her usual light comic touch and black-and-white cartoon drawings to tell the story, Charise Mericle Harper takes her early elementary readers along with her as Grace and Mimi work their way through this broken-promise-premise in her fifth beginning chapter novel. Harper handles the growing pains of third graders with the deft fictional touch that puts her series right up there with Beverly Cleary's pesky Ramona Quimby, Paula Danziger's redoubtable Amber Brown, and Megan McDonald's changeable Judy Moody.

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