One Tough Chick, by Leslie Margolis

chrissymcbooknerd's review

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"You're one tough chick." he said, winking at me before running to his friends.

Disclaimer: At the time I agreed to review ONE TOUGH CHICK, I had no idea that this was fourth in a series. I have NOT read books one through three and I am reviewing this title as a stand-alone since I have no experience with the series.

I was sent an electronic galley copy of ONE TOUGH CHICK by Leslie Margolis for the purposes of providing a complete and honest review. I thought the cover art was adorable and I'm always interested in reading more middle grade fiction since it's not a genre that I have a lot of experience reading.

The story starts with Annabelle, a sixth grader, and two of her best friends having a picnic in the park. A group of eight grade boys come and demand that the girls move, because they *always* play soccer in this exact spot every Saturday. Annabelle stood up to the boys and told them they could just go play on the other side of the lake, which resulted in one of the boys calling her a TOUGH CHICK (hence the title of this selection).

Not only is Annabelle a tough chick, she's ALSO a tough girlfriend -- she finally has her first real boyfriend in Oliver, a cute, popular artist at school who Annabelle has been crushing on for a LONG time! And then there's the school talent show -- all of Annabelle's friends are entering, but Annabelle can't decide on a talent that she could showcase in front of her school ... unless, that is, she brings her dog and teaches him tricks...

So of COURSE that doesn't work out, but luckily Annabelle gets a place on the judging board, representing the sixth grade class as a student judge for the talent show. That would be great except everyone at school is now trying to be her friend, bringing her random gifts and favors to try and sway her vote. And now it seems like Oliver wants Annabelle to push things in HIS favor at the talent show too. And then, of course, her friends think it would be a good idea to arrange it so that each of them gets a prize...

By the end of this talent show, will Annabelle still even HAVE a boyfriend? Or any friends at all?

I haven't had a lot of experience with the middle grade genre, honestly, so I don't know that I necessarily have a great basis for comparison. That said, I generally tried to assess this novel throughout the story by wondering if I, back at about age 10 to 12, think I would have enjoyed reading this story back at that time.

The answer? Yes, probably so. Annabelle is a fun, spunky girl who definitely tries to do the right thing and be a good role model for her friends at school. She does her best to be a serious student, but at the same time she can't help but daydream about getting her very first kiss. (That sounds vaguely familiar -- ahh, the memories!) She's definitely relateable and her story was interesting enough to keep young minds engaged, for sure.

Although this title *is* fourth in a series, it's definitely not necessary to read these in order. I wasn't at all lost starting with book four, but I'm sure that young readers would find benefit in having ALL of the Annabelle stories since I'm sure they work together nicely.

While this might be too overly simplistic for fans of YA or adult fiction, I still found ONE TOUGH CHICK to be a quick, enjoyable read, regardless.

I'd probably recommend this story to younger girls, around ages 9 to 12. I can't see any reason why a little girl wouldn't have fun with this story!

Very cute! If I come across the other three, I'd definitely give those a shot too!

finesilkflower's review

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I generally enjoy these books. They're sixth-grade chick lit, in interesting look into the heteronormative middle school social world I mostly sidestepped. They have a light touch and some funny internal narration, although the dialogue is sometimes stilted and unbelievable (especially Emma, who is becoming more and more The Brain from Arthur.)

This one picks up right where [b:Everybody Bugs Out|9583184|Everybody Bugs Out|Leslie Margolis||14470126] left off, with Annabelle and Oliver going on a date to IHOP. I like series that have enough continuity to show the ups and downs of relationships. While "getting the guy" is obviously a satisfying ending, it's also nice to see what happens after -- even (especially) if it's incredibly awkward and confusing. It's an important lesson that getting a boyfriend doesn't solve your problems; it creates a whole new set.

The main plot had to do with a talent show. Conflict of interest is a mildly interesting moral quandary, but overall it was fairly boring.

I'm not sure if this one is the shortest yet or if the story is just very simple, but it went by fast. The animal themes seem to be outliving their usefulness. Annabelle is called "tough chick" a couple of times, but it's not really a major theme of the story. There are no actual baby chicks.

mrskatiefitz's review

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The Annabelle Unleashed series by Leslie Margolis began in 2008 with Boys are Dogs. Annabelle, a seventh grader, who has previously attended an all-girls school finds herself in a new co-ed school, surrounded by obnoxious boys. As she trains her dog, she realizes that the same behavior modification techniques also work on the boys at her school, and she uses this fact to help her and her new female friends get used to middle school. Girls Acting Catty (2009) and Everybody Bugs Out (2011) continue Annabelle’s wholesome adventures navigating the halls of her middle school. By the time One Tough Chick begins, she has established a core group of friends, acquired a new stepdad and stepbrother, and started dating a cute boy named Oliver. The plot of this fourth book continues with many of the threads established by the previous titles, but it focuses chiefly on Annabelle’s role as a judge in the talent show and the dilemmas she faces when people assume she will vote based on her relationships with the performers, rather than from an objective point of view.

What is so nice about this series is that Annabelle is a true role model. In each book, she shows girls that it is possible to make it through the various challenges of middle school without compromising on what matters to them. There is bullying and teasing in these books, but time and again, Annabelle rises above it and helps her friends to do the same It’s not that Annabelle is perfect - she has her flaws - but that she doesn’t apologize for being herself and doesn’t bury her head in the sand and avoid intimidating situations.

This particular book is not the strongest of the series, but it takes on a very important topic for girls in their early teens - first boyfriends. The story provides a very sweet and realistic road map for that first dating relationship. Both Annabelle and Oliver are shy and awkward, but also kind and respectful to each other. Girls who follow Annabelle’s example will be in good shape when they start dating! It’s also nice that girls can grow up with Annabelle, the way they do with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice or with Lauren Myracle’s Winnie. Annabelle’s stories are somewhat tamer than Naylor’s, Myracle’s, or Judy Blume’s, but because of that they are probably more likely to reflect real life for many readers of the series. Annabelle’s positive attitude and the comforting atmosphere of each book might also appeal to girls who are hooked on the American Girl books, especially the contemporary stories about the Girls of the Year.