Rania: This is the book of you by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Scholastic, 2014. ISBN 9781742990118
(Ages: 8-12) Highly recommended. Jealousy. Family relationships. Friendship. Rivalry. Schools. When Raina's aunt and uncle and two cousins move closer she is thrilled. An only child, she is pleased to have relations close at hand, especially Uncle Tony, her dead father's brother. Her cousin Andrea is her age and joins the same class, adding to her pleasure, but when the girl begins to rival Rania in the classroom, and move in on her friends, and finally attempts to win the election for school captain, their relationship is stretched. Rania puts a lot of pressure upon herself, striving to be the best in class, hoping to become school captain and volunteering to make a peacock for the school to replace a picture of one destroyed in the school foyer.
But Rania's friends, Deyana and Jodie remain true, urging Rania to see her cousin in a better light, sometimes stretching their friendship too. The three find an old book in the school library and although blank, sometimes words appear which speak volumes to the girls and gives them clues as to how to proceed.
When Rania is told by the words of the long dead Betsy that 'you do not chose your family, you chose your friends' and tells the girl to learn to love her family, Rania sits back a little and finally works out why Andrea is so keen to win the election, and Andrea begins to realise just how lucky she is to have a father. The two girls come together to solve the problem of Rania's peacock and all is well.
This is a charming story of girls learning to like and respect each other, to listen to and learn from each other, to take a step back, not to give way to feelings that may harm their relationship terminally. This is one of a group of four stories about these girls and each is sure to win a strong fan base as they tell of real life problems for girls of this age told with humour and sympathy. In the background the school is so real that readers will instantly recognise the customs, rules and processes involved, along with some of the habitual problems of bullying and making friends.