- Barbara Harris
Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah.
Australian 11th-grader Amal is smart, funny, outspoken, a good student, and a loyal friend. She is also a devout Muslim who decides to wear the hijab, or head covering, full-time. The story tells of her emotional and spiritual journey as she copes with a mad crush on a boy, befriends an elderly Greek neighbor, and tries to help a friend who aspires to be a lawyer but whose well-intentioned mother is trying to force her to leave school and get married.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.
They were just a soft, ordinary pair of thrift-shop jeans until the four girls took turns trying them on--four girls, that is, who are close friends, about to be parted for the summer, with very different sizes and builds, not to mention backgrounds and personalities. Yet the pants settle on each girl's hips perfectly, making her look sexy and long-legged and feel confident as a teenager can feel. "These are magical Pants!" they realize, and so they make a pact to share them equally, to mail them back and forth over the summer from wherever they are. Beautiful, distant Lena is going to Greece to be with her grandparents; strong, athletic Bridget is off to soccer camp in Baja, California; hot-tempered Carmen plans to have her divorced father all to herself in South Carolina; and Tibby the rebel will be left at home to slave for minimum wage at Wallman's.
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock.
D.J. Schwenk, while not really happy, never complains or questions her life on the family's small dairy farm in Wisconsin. After her father injures himself, the 15-year-old girl must do the farm work almost single-handedly, including milking the cows. She never really noticed the similarities between her life and the lives of the cows. D.J. is a jock, so on top of all her farm chores, she takes on training Brian, the quarterback on a rival school's football team. The summer they spend together changes everything as D.J. discovers that she has lots to say about her life and what she wants out of it.
Gossip Times Three by Amy Goldman Koss.
In an authentic voice, an unnamed narrator (whose identity is revealed at the end) tells the story of three seventh-grade girls as they weather the storm created by Bess dating her friend Abby's longtime crush. The narrative is presented as an English assignment and openly addresses questions of theme, plot, and foreshadowing and offers readers alternative scenarios and explanations of the characters' motivations.