Recommended for ages 9-13
Middle schooler Cici Reno is the go-to person for… well, darn near everything. She knows just the right thing to say, just the right advice to give. Maybe she’s so Zen because she takes classes in her mom’s local yoga studio and tweets advice about the right pose for the right mood? The thing is, her best friend, Aggie, is crushing on Drew – who happens to be Cici’s brother’s buddy – but has no idea how to talk to him. Cici volunteers to create a fake Twitter account and talk to him online, posing as Aggie. And that’s where the trouble starts: Cici finds herself falling for Drew. Drew falls for the girl he’s chatting with online, who he thinks is Aggie, but he’s totally confused as to why Aggie’s so different when she sees him in person. And Cici? Well, for possibly the first time in her life, she doesn’t have the answers.
Cici Reno is a fun intro to crush and romantic fiction for tweens, and a sneaky/smart way to introduce the classic tale, Cyrano de Bergerac, to middle schoolers. It’s a classic tale of miscommunication that fits perfectly with today’s kids, who largely interact online. I also love the introduction and description to various yoga poses, and the mental/emotional benefits of each, that Cici Tweets out at the beginning of each chapter. Not only does it gives readers a clue as to what’s going to happen in the upcoming chapter, it offers a little bit of yoga instruction that I appreciate and hope tweens will take the bait and discover on their own.
Cici is a likable character. She’s not a mean girl; she’s not vapid; she’s a realistic tween who does a favor for her shy friend, with the best of intentions, and finds herself stuck in a situation she didn’t expect. Aggie is a surprisingly supportive best friend; I normally find myself irritated with the classic “best friend breakdown” formula that many books fall into, but Cici and Aggie avoided all that by simply talking things out. Thank you for that, Ms. Springer! It’s going to be a talking point when I booktalk this one, because I will be adding this to my shelves for summer reading. I think the use of social media and miscommunication will fit nicely with my tweens, and it gives me a great jumping off point for a discussion on how you can pretend to be someone else online – and, in classic devil’s advocate mode, how someone shy and/or introverted can use social media to interact more comfortably than he or she would feel in person.
Christina Springer’s author website offers more information about her books, a link to her blog and appearances, and contact information.
Here’s a glimpse at #MiddleSchoolMatchmaker: