Stella Batts Needs a New Name

Bk. 1. illus. by Jennifer A. Bell. 150p. Sleeping Bear. 2012. Tr $9.99. ISBN 978-1-58536-185-4; pap. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-58536-183-0. LC 2011032119.
Gr 3–4—Stella Batts doesn't like her name. A mean boy in her class laughed and called her "Smella" when she fell in dog poop during a nature walk. Her younger sister, Penny, has a nickname and she doesn't. Plus, she wants to be a famous writer, and "Stella" won't look good on a book cover. During a field trip to her dad's candy store, Batts Confections, she tells her friends about her plan for a name change. They think it's such a good idea that they decide to change theirs as well: Willa to Caramel, Talisa to Kit Kat, and Lucy to Truffle. Stella can't think of a good name until she sees the logo of a new bookstore: Scheherazade, "Sherry" for short. Things start to get complicated, though, when Penny wants to become Stella, the girls' teacher won't call them by their new names, and Lucy gets mad when she sees her old name in the autobiography Stella is writing. Sheinmel has a great ear for the dialogue and concerns of eight-year-old girls. Bell's artwork is breezy and light, reflecting the overall tone of the book. This would be a good choice for fans of Barbara Park's "Junie B. Jones" books (Random).—Diane McCabe, Loyola Village Elementary School, Los Angeles

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