Wednesday, August 20, 2014

30 Days of No Gossip

Maddie is the gossip queen of Troy Middle School. She was shy and unpopular in elementary school, but she found herself to be the center of attention when she became the source of information, rumors and gossip. She even publishes the Troy Tattler, the school's unofficial gossip newsletter.

Maddie's best friend, Vi, is quiet, brainy and extremely interested in design. She doesn't participate when Maddie and their other friends gossip, preferring to withdraw and sketch.

When Maddie reveals Vi's crush on a boy to the boy himself, with only the best of intentions, Vi is furious and challenges Maddie to stop gossiping for thirty days or their friendship is over. Since Maddie values Vi's friendship, she accepts the challenge, but the task is daunting. As anyone who ever attended middle school knows, gossip and rumors are it's life's blood.

Maddie struggles with what gossip is and whether it has made her as popular as she thinks it has. When does passing on information cross the line into gossip? Is it okay to spread negative or judgmental information? Is talking behind people's backs hurtful, even if they don't find out? What if they do? What kind of person is she being when she engages in gossip? Are people interested in her or are they only interested in the information she has to share?

When Maddie finds out about a really big secret, that a TV makeover show is planning a big decorating project at Troy Middle School, she is challenged to keep the knowledge a secret. It is practically impossible to keep such a secret in that environment, but she doesn't want to jeopardize the project and she especially wants Vi to have a chance to participate and show off her design talents. Maddie watches helplessly as the little bit of information she does divulge,  grows and takes on a life of its own.

This is an easy read with believable characters and dialogue. The redecorating project seems a little contrived, but I think most upper elementary students would buy into it. This book may plant some seeds for thought as to what we say about other people and whether we are hurting anyone by doing it. It also gives some insight into rumors and their amazing ability to spread, becoming something much larger than their origin.      2014       


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