Plot summary: This guide, published by American Girl, provides the keys for tween girls to successfully navigate the middle school party-scene. The book is divided into different chapters that cover various topics related to parties: “You’re Invited,” “Party Smarts,” “Giving Gifts,” “Welcome,” “Hostess How-to,” and “Getting Gifts.” Each chapter contains overall advice, various situations to expect, and a fun quiz related to the topic. In the first chapter, “You’re Invited,” conversation starters and embarrassing situation solvers are included. The “Party Smarts” and “Welcome” chapter explain what to do if the party-goer, or a guest, become homesick when spending the night. Party themes and ideas are also provided.
Review: Although this guide has an overall light-hearted and fun feel, it holds truly beneficial information that can help tween girls overcome one of the most stressful situations in middle-school: attending or hosting a party. Parties are, for middle-schoolers, one of the most important events that can define where a person falls in the social leader board. This means that behaving properly is of utmost importance. American Girl is very tuned in to the potential pitfalls of middle-school parties, and helps ease the stress with advice that will resonate with tweens. Situations, complete with play-by-plays, are presented in the various chapters, helping tweens determine the best course of action if, for example, someone is keeping them awake at a slumber party, they are stuck in a conversation with adults who might also be at the event, or their body makes an embarrassing sound. The quizzes in each chapter help to keep the mood light and add excitement to the prospect of attending a party, something that a tween who is reading this guide might be nervous about. Overall, this is a very useful resource for tweens and parents.
Reading level: Grades 4-7
Similar titles: Other Smart Girl guides published by American Girl: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Starting Middle School, A Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet, A Smart Girl’s Guide to Boys, etc.
Personal thoughts: As I was reading this guide I kept thinking, “Wow. I wish I’d had this when I was in middle school.” Going to parties was, perhaps, one of the most stressful and frightening situations for me as a middle-schooler (so much so that I attended very few, despite being invited fairly regularly.) I really appreciate American Girl’s efforts to help tweens navigate through challenging situations with advice that sounds like it’s coming from a peer, not a parent. I look forward to reading and recommending more of their Smart Girl guides.
Themes: Middle school, parties, manners.
Awards/Reviews: Positive review from School Library Journal .
Series Information: Part of Smart Girl series published by American Girl.
Character information: N/A
Annotation: You’ve received an invitation to a party: now what? This handy guide helps you attend or plan parties, with advice about everything from giving gifts, homesickness, party cliques, and parents.