Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally)
By Lisa Yee
Illustrated by Dan Santat
Arthur A. Levine Books
ISBN: 9780545055925
Grades 2-4
In Stores Sept. 1, 2009
Review copy borrowed


In a climate where you can’t throw a dinner roll without hitting five or six new series, Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) is a middle grade school story (and first in a series) that stands out with humor, believability, and a subtle touch.

4th grade is about to begin and Bobby Ellis-Chan is feeling uneasy. Third grade was a disaster, his friend Holly Harper has started hanging around with girlie-girl Jillian Zarr, and his ex-pro football player father (a.k.a. “The Freezer”) is having a tough time with the domestic duties of being a stay at home dad. To add insult to injury, his allergies are so bad that a pet dog is completely out of the question. As the school year begins and Bobby unintentionally stokes a boys vs. girls feud, the election for student council representative between he and Holly takes on heightened importance. If only Bobby could avoid embarrassing himself, he might have a shot. That goes down the tubes due to an unfortunate case of static cling.

While a fair share of craziness ensues, the friendship between Bobby and Holly is well executed. Yee doesn’t suddenly throw a love/hate switch on the two main characters, but treats the relationship as one that is slowly strained. A touch of subtlety that is nice to see.

Speaking of subtlety, just about every character in Bobby vs. Girls is thoughtfully round. This avoidance of stereotypes results in some believable and memorable characters. Young readers will likely want to learn more about Bobby’s unusual family and his friend Chess.

The illustrations (which were only in draft form in the uncorrected proof I read) look promising. Modern and bold, they should be a nice addition.

Interesting characters, funny situations, and an old fashioned boys vs. girls throw-down. Middle grade done right.

Also reviewed by Kids Lit.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.