Just Jaime

By Terri Libenson

Ages 8 to 12.

The last day of seventh grade is no celebration for Jaime Daniels. Instead of being excited about summer, her heart is pounding, and her palms are sweating. Jaime’s friends — Grace, Celia and best friend Maya — have been acting weird for a few months. Sometimes they are nice, and other times they tease her about her clothes or her lack of interest in boys and makeup.

Jaime tried to ignore those moments, but she couldn’t ignore Celia’s social media post with a photo from a get-together she hosted. Jaime wasn’t invited. It wasn’t intentional, Maya insists. They thought she had other plans.

Jaime, who narrates half the story, isn’t sure what to believe, but she wants the weirdness to end. On that last day of school, she decides to confront Maya.

“I don’t want to feel ignored at the pool or teased for looking like a baby in my bikini,” Jaime says.

Maya, whose side of the story is presented in comic panels, is also preparing for a talk. She knows exactly what’s going on. Jaime doesn’t seem to be growing up as fast as the rest of the group, and cool girl Celia wants them to unfriend her — in real life. She tells Maya to inform Jaime.

The break will be for the best, Maya tells herself. Jaime has little in common with them, and she’ll make other friends. Being close to Celia is worth the guilt she feels for dumping Jaime. Or is it?

What could be a simple story of bullies and their victim isn’t so simple. Jaime doesn’t like the treatment she’s receiving, but she admits that her own behavior isn’t always kind. The four friends have a reputation of being “gossip girls.”

“We may occasionally talk about other people, but we never start rumors,” Jaime says in her defense.

The drama with Maya, Grace and Celia causes Jaime to sit with other classmates — girls she knew little about other than through stories she had helped spread at school. As she gets to know them, she learns more about herself and what she values in a friendship.

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“Just Jaime” is part of Terri Libenson’s Emmie & Friends series. Emmie, Izzy, Brianna and most recently Tyler also have their own books. In “Truly Tyler” (ages 8 to 12), Emmie and Tyler bond over a comic book project, but his basketball pals don’t think she’s cool enough to be his friend.

In “Real Friends” (ages 8 to 12), Shannon’s longtime best friend, Adrienne, starts hanging out with the most popular (and mean) girls in their class. In this graphic memoir, written by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Shannon yearns to be popular but worries nonstop that she will lose her one friend.

Do you have a suggestion for a book or two related to our “True Friends” theme? Ask a parent or teacher to fill out the form at wapo.st/kidspost_YMAL by July 28, and we may publish your recommendation. In August we will send prize packages to three randomly selected kids who sent in suggestions.

Listen to Terri Libenson talk about “Just Jaime” and her other Emmie & Friends books on a new episode of the “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read” podcast with Zibby Owens at zibbyowens.com/transcript/terri-libenson-just-jaime.

Next time in book club

by Carlos Hernandez

Ages 9 to 13.

Sal Vidón ends up in the principal’s office on his first three days at the Culeco Academy of the Arts. The magician-in-training claims he’s the victim of bully Yasmany Robles. Never mind that he ripped a hole in the universe, found a dead chicken and deposited it in Yasmany’s locker. Gabi Real, editor of the school newspaper and a friend of Yasmany’s, is suspicious of Sal from the start. She’s also intrigued by Sal’s magic, which is far from perfect. When he arranges visits from his mom, who recently died, Sal causes trouble much bigger than a locker prank.

Join the club

The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 6 to 14. They may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2021.) The first 700 kids registered will receive a flying disc. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2021. If you have questions, contact kidspost@washpost.com.