Bernadette Inez O’Brian Schwartz is about to start third grade, and without her best friend, who moved away, it’s going to be “the worst year ever.” This curious girl is an engaging and quirky character who loves to ask “Why?” and investigate the world around her through science. Bernadette is seeing a lot of changes in her life this year, in addition to the loss of Jasmine, and she doesn’t like it. One of the big changes is that she has to eat lunch at school every day. This is a most terrifying prospect without a best friend, but after a few weeks she becomes friends with Annie, Keisha, and Megan and they team up to form the “Lunch Bunch.” Written with light humor throughout, the story unfolds nicely to share many of the challenges Bernadette faces, such as not having a talent to showcase in the talent show and not being able to enter the science fair. Bernadette is good at developing “strategies” to figure out how to deal with different situations, and, with the help of her friends, she always comes out on top. A few black-and-white illustrations are scattered throughout. This is a fun read with accessible language and appeal for early chapter-book readers.
–Bethany A. Lafferty, Henderson District Public Libraries, NV
© School Library Journal 2009