Chloe on the Bright Side

224p. (The Kindness Club). Bloomsbury. Nov. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781681190914.
Gr 3–6—Sheinmel (Stella Batts) introduces a new series for middle grade readers with a warm and charming first installment. Fifth grader Chloe Silver is probably the most caring person you'll ever meet, but even Chloe finds it difficult to be kind sometimes. Chloe's parents have recently divorced, forcing Chloe away from her best friend and into a new school. Chloe's new circumstances have her torn between two groups of friends—"The It Girls" with sassy Monroe and "The Kindness Club" with her science partners Lucy and Theo—as well as between her two very different families. While this is ultimately a book about altruism and understanding, Sheinmel deftly recalls the difficult days of fifth grade. Chloe has many tough decisions to make and has to live with the positive and negative consequences. The dialogue is candied but avoids becoming altogether cloying. The characters are well-developed and relatable. The true strength of the tale is in Sheinmel's presentation of tween politics and Chloe's inner struggles. Readers will be rewarded with a satisfying read and, hopefully, a little inspiration to be considerate in their own lives. A publisher's note reveals the new series was inspired by various kindness and antibullying projects across the United States. Libraries will benefit from having this title in their arsenal against cliques and bullies.
VERDICT Ideal for elementary and middle school shelves, this is a light and easy read for tweens. Recommended as a general purchase.

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