Writin' Bout a Generation

Julie Bowe’s Best Friend trilogy

Rob Reid

Catering to the third-fourth grade age group, Julie Bowe just released her third book, My Best Frenemy.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, there were The Baby-sitters Club books. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series showed up between 2001 and 2007. And now, in the world of books about friendships for young readers, there is Ida May.

This delightful character first appeared in 2007 in the book My Last Best Friend, written by Mondovi author Julie Bowe and published by Harcourt. This was followed by My New Best Friend in 2008. The third book in the series – My Best Frenemy – arrives in bookstores this May.

My Last Best Friend, the first book in the series, was chosen as one of the Best Children’s Books of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education – a big deal in Kiddy Lit Land. Booklist magazine wrote, “Comedy and important growing-up issues, like handling bullies and telling the truth meld in a strong debut, just right for the age group (Grades 3-4).” In this book, Ida May misses her best friend Elizabeth, who moved away. She connects with the new girl Stacey, while at the same time deals with the bratty popular girl Jenna. The book is now a required read for Children’s Literature students at UW-Eau Claire.

The sequel, My New Best Friend, finds Ida May’s relationship with Stacey growing, while her relationship with Jenna starts moving in a different direction. Kirkus Reviews states, “Fans of Ida May will be overjoyed to read this new installment.” My Best Frenemy puts Jenna a little more front and center with Ida May, as do several of the other students in Ida May’s class. The kids get heavily involved in a series of “Truth or Dare” activities. One of the dares lands Ida May in the principal’s office. Her dare was to shout, “There’s a mouse in my macaroni” in the school’s lunchroom.

We are still waiting for professional reviews to arrive for the new book, but this reporter has inside information that Julie’s very own daughter recently stated, “I couldn’t put it down. Seriously, mom, I think this is your best book yet.” And since this reporter is also one of the Chippewa Valley’s big-time children’s book readers, I’d like to add the following insightful and astute commentary – “Loved it!”

Julie will have a booksigning at Borders on May 15 at 1pm.