The Humiliations of Pipi McGee

Running Pr/Perseus/. Sept. 2019. 384p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780762493395.
Gr 5-7–Eighth grader Penelope (Pipi) McGee seems to be cursed. In kindergarten, she drew a portrait of herself as a piece of bacon with breasts, and in fourth grade she peed her pants on a field trip (earning the nickname Pee-Pee). Each year holds embarrassing memories for Pipi (don’t even mention seventh grade; Pipi doesn’t talk about that year ever). Now as an eighth grader, Penelope hatches a plan to redeem herself from her grade school humiliations. She starts by volunteering in a kindergarten classroom. Pipi immediately gravitates to kindergartner Piper, who calls to mind a young Pipi. When Pipi keeps Piper from drawing a potentially embarrassing object, Pipi checks kindergarten off her Redemption List. Things seem to be smooth sailing for Penelope; she’s able to check off one grade at a time from her list. She even seems to get more popular this year, with cool kids Sarah and Jackson inviting her to join their poetry club and be their friend. Then there’s Kara Samson—Penelope’s archenemy. She is the one who locked Pipi out of the bathroom, causing her to pee herself in fourth grade. Pip’s revenge scheme ends up turning against her, and she realizes that her redemption plan has gone a bit astray. Pipi’s character development is realistic, though the story drags at times and readers may struggle to stay engaged.
VERDICT Recommended where there is demand for realistic, humorous fiction centered on girls coming of age.

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