Cody and the Heart of a Champion

illus. by Eliza Wheeler. 160p. Candlewick. Apr. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780763679217.
Gr 2–4—Ready for bare feet, her favorite spring jacket, and the return of her ant colony, Cody eagerly anticipates spring in this fourth book in the series. "Outside Cody's classroom window the world was changing before her very eyes. Icicles were melting. Grass was greening. The trees had a happy, fizzy look." Unfortunately, the transition from winter to spring never goes smoothly; Cody must contend with one more snow day, a bad cold (which she spreads to a number of classmates), a missing-in-action ant colony, and a now-too-small favorite spring jacket. Cody's world is changing on the inside too, and those transitions are equally challenging. Her friend Pearl has become infatuated with a new friend, bossy soccer star Madison, and Pearl decides she and Cody need to try out for the team. Pearl diligently follows Madison's orders (what to wear, where to sit, how to play) and urges Cody to as well, but Cody resists, risking her friendship with Pearl. She also learns her best friend Spencer and his family are moving, and is angry that he did not tell her himself. As in other "Cody" books, the protagonist's main conflict, navigating change, replicates itself all around her—from the tumultuous change of the season to changing friendships and families to her brother's new girlfriend pushing him to make his own changes. The question that Cody and others manage to resolve for themselves in the end lies around when to embrace change, when to accept it, and when to stay true to who you are.
VERDICT Full of soccer games and social dynamics, the latest in this warm and satisfying chapter book series gently explores some of the truths of growing up through a strong leading female character who has incredibly supportive family and friends around her.

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