I received a copy of this book for review purposes. I was also compensated for writing this post, but all opinions remain my own.
Fourth-grader Eleanor is about to learn a valuable childhood lesson about friendship, and just as she did in her previous two books featuring young Eleanor, Julie Sternberg presents this story in an accessible and emotionally-honest manner in Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake. Perfect for readers who have graduated beyond beginner chapter books but may not yet have the stamina to read longer middle grade novels independently, Sternberg’s books are a delight.
Friendship is a huge part of the lives of nine and ten year olds, especially the bond between best friends. When a new student is introduced to their class, the effect on Eleanor’s friendship with Pearl is immediate. Her best friend Pearl is asked to be the new student Ainsley’s “buddy,” which will require her to help her with schoolwork on the afternoons that she used to spend at Eleanor’s house. As Pearl and Ainsley spend more time together, Eleanor feels left out, and she sees Pearl treating Ainsley like she was her best friend. This poses a new social challenge for Eleanor, and in a moment of embarrassment, she impulsively says something to a group of classmates that she immediately regrets. Unfortunately, she can’t take it back, and she has hurt both Ainsley and Pearl.
I did a mean thing. A very mean thing. To a new girl AND to my best friend. I HATE that I did it. But I did. This is worse than carrot juice on a cupcake or a wasp on my pillow or a dress that’s too tight at the neck. I hope you never do anything that mean. I really do.
Eleanor’s voice carries the perfect amount of innocence and honesty in this realistic representation, and in this third book, Sternberg has again chosen a storyline that children will understand and be able to compare to their own experiences. Eleanor must work through her regret to figure out what she can do to make amends.
I’ve appreciated that Eleanor is portrayed reaching out to the adults in her life when she has a problem in all three books, something that doesn’t always happen in children’s literature but is a good example for young readers. Eleanor also faces a personal challenge in the story at the same time as her friendship woes, as she is starring in the class play, which means performing a solo in spite of her fear of singing in front of others.
Sternberg writes Eleanor’s reactions in simple text that both is accessible to young readers and reads authentically. For more information on Eleanor’s previous two stories, please see my reviews for Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger over on 5 Minutes for Books.
Enter to win
We’re excited to be able to offer three books in today’s giveaway. One winner will receive a copy of this lovely book, as well as copies of the previous two in the series, Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and Like Bug Juice on a Burger. Enter using the widget below. Giveaway open to US residents only, please.