Danny Constantino’s First (and Maybe Last?) Date

Dial. Jul. 2020. 224p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781984816610.
Gr 5 Up–High expectations turn Danny Constantino’s very first date into a blur of stress and excitement. A teen celebrity, a socialite mother, and living in a small town further heighten Danny’s anxiety. In tiny Cuper Cove, seventh grader Danny is a wallflower. His mother, on the other hand, is a self-made, overzealous realtor who is also running for mayor. Danny’s life turns upside down when his best friend’s sister sends a text invitation to Natalie to attend Cuper Cove’s Halloween Dance. Better known as Natalie Flores Griffin, the Hollywood “It Girl,” Natalie was Danny’s close friend before moving and becoming a major star. Midway through the afternoon, students, the principal and Danny’s mother discover that Natalie has accepted the date. This is a fast-paced, humorous escapade that tackles the social awkwardness of middle school dating. Authentic yet witty dialogue advances the plot while providing crucial character development. Tween movie fans will recognize the multitude of rom-com and popular movie references, helping to alleviate the potentially cheesy romance focus. Readers will relate to Danny, whose life seems to move without him at times, mirroring an adolescent perspective.
VERDICT A lighthearted, realistic fiction book that uses humor to quench the social anxiety of middle school life.

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