The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman

Levine Querido. Nov. 2023. 175p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781646142644.
Gr 3-7–Shaindy lives in a small Jewish suburb where life is quiet, and Jewish traditions are closely followed. Shaindy is thrilled to be chosen to participate in a prank by the most popular girl in her yeshiva’s all-girl sixth grade class. She sees her classmates rollerblading and wants to join them, but her parents won’t buy her a pair until she proves adept at it. As an incentive for joining in on the pranks, cool girl Gayil promises to teach Shaindy how to rollerblade. At first, Shaindy overlooks her misgivings and follows along, but as time passes, Shaindy starts to realize that the pranks are not harmless and are filled with spite. This causes Shaindy to wonder about the connections among those being pranked, herself, and Gayil. Eventually, the mean girl pins Shaindy as the only guilty party. Initially, the protagonist is very angry at Gayil, but then Shaindy begins to truly think about mercy as her community celebrates Yom Kippur, a day of forgiveness. There is a dearth of middle grade, non–Holocaust-related novels with Jewish main characters. Lowe’s second novel for middle schoolers is a well-written, pitch-perfect contribution for the audience. The struggle between trying to fit in and keeping true to yourself will resonate with all tweens.
VERDICT Readers will eagerly follow Shaindy’s story and root for her to make decisions aligned with her values.

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