What I Read This Weekend . . .
The Summer Before (Baby-Sitter's Club) by Ann M. Martin -- Middle Grades Contemporary Fiction
The Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer, illustrated by Suejean Rim -- Middle Grades Contemporary Fiction
Soon-to-be-fourteen-year-old Annie loves hanging out at her grandmother Louisa's beautiful, old-fashioned tea shop. It's cozy and familiar and makes Annie happy, especially when she remembers how she and her two best friends Genna and Zoe, used to hang out every day sipping tea. They loved the ritual and the history of tea. They were inseparable and called themselves the Teashop girls. Now with high school fast approaching, Gen is busy chasing boys and doing theater and Zoe is obsessed with tennis. Only Annie seems to have time for the shop anymore. Annie is thrilled when she successfully convinces Louisa to hire her, especially since there is a cute sophomore boy helping out with shop inventory. But when the lights go out in the store, Annie realizes that the shop is in trouble. She's determined to save the place she loves, keep Louisa in town and win the admiration of the boy she likes. With the help of Genna and Zoe, Annie embarks on an ambitious plan to save the shop. They have very little time and fear that their archenemy's parents are going to bulldoze the shop in favor of condos. As Genna and Zoe turn more to outside interests, Annie is hurt and confused but still determined to do whatever it takes to save the place she loves most in the world. Annie is very realistic and she deals with her problems in a practical, mature way. Her friends are rather stereotypical though and I would have liked the book better without the friendship subplot. The teashop sounds fantastic and I would love to live there. The real charm of the book lies in the drawings, vintage tea advertisements, anecdotes and recipes. This is a sweet, inspirational story for middle-school girls who may be going through that difficult transition period from childhood to young adulthood.