Queen of the Toilet Bowl by Frieda Wishinsky

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Wishinsky, Frieda. Queen Of The Toilet Bowl (Orca Currents). Orca, 2005. ISBN‎ 978-1551433646 $9.95 

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Renata’s family has moved from Sao Paolo to the United States in search of a better life. Her mother works hard cleaning houses for her “ladies,” some of whom are the mothers of Renata’s spoiled classmates. When Renata steals the spotlight from the school’s drama queen, Karin first tries to frame Renata for theft, then finds revenge by posting a picture online–of Renata’s mom cleaning a toilet. Will Renata choose cowardice and victimhood, or pride and survival?

The middle school drama rings true: adolescent girls in real life can be as mean and self-centered as portrayed here. They can also be as loyal and forgiving. The author captures the quicksilver pace of change and delivers an important lesson without making it feel like a preachy moral.

The junior version of Orca’s successful, high quality Soundings series, Currents also features strong storytelling and issues-driven plots. This title in particular focuses on bullying and ties immigration, racism, and self-esteem into a computer age tale that lends itself well to class discussion. Characters are mostly black and white, and the action is simple and fast to accommodate a reading level of 3.6 and a complete story in only 104 pages.

Tidier in subject matter, Currents is sure to fill the bill for teen reluctant readers ages 11-15.

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