Thursday, February 17, 2011

Me and Rolly Maloo, by Janet S. Wong

Jenna Lee is thrilled when the most popular girl in fourth grade, Rolly Maloo, calls and invites her over for a playdate. Jenna is good in school, especially at math, but she doesn't have many friends, so this is a big step! In fact, Jenna is so excited that she barely notices that Rolly is saying something about the big math test coming up. However, when Jenna's mother says she can't go to Rolly's house, Jenna is sure her one big chance to be friends with Rolly is gone.

So when Rolly passes a note in the middle of the test asking for the answer to question #8, Jenna decides to help her, even though she knows it is wrong. The rest of the book shows the consequences of this decision for everyone involved, from the kids to the teacher, parents and principal. Cartoon-like illustrations are scattered throughout the book, showing various people's reactions to the rumors going through the town about the incident.

Somewhat unusually for a children's book, Me and Rolly Maloo portrays the parents and school officials as complex people; not all of them are portrayed positively. Even the mothers can be catty and prone to spreading rumors, and the principal and the teacher don't like the new school board decision. Children reading this book might be surprised to see these glimpses into the adult world, but they may also enjoy them.

Overall, this book is well written and handles the subject of cheating intelligently and with sensitivity. The suspense builds throughout the book as you wonder how it will all turn out, and Me and Rolly Maloo will keep most readers glued to the pages right through to the ending. 2010

M. Adams

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