Using an unconventional hybrid of poetry and prose, Beth Ain captures all the angst of being a preadolescent girl. In the first book of this two-book set, Izzy Kline Has Butterflies, Izzy returns to fourth grade to find that her old friends aren’t quite friendly. She hopes for a big part in the school play, Free to Be You and Me, and must deal with her parents’ divorce and the “FOUR ANNOYING BOYS” in her class. Thankfully, she meets the super fun Quinn Mitchell, who becomes her best friend.
The second book, The Cure for Cold Feet, addresses how Izzy manages the hardships of middle school — namely, mean girls and cliques — as well as her father’s remarriage, her mother’s new relationship with a woman, and her brother’s rebelliousness, as well as his experimentation with alcohol and drugs.
While there is little that is overtly Jewish in Izzy Kline Has Butterflies and The Cure for Cold Feet, mentions of Hanukkah, summer camp, and a chuppah at a wedding, as well as the narrator’s yiddishe kop (Jewish mind) and sense of justice give the books a Jewish feel.
A brief review cannot adequately convey how beautifully these books are written and how meaningful they could be to a girl facing the troubles of growing up. They are highly recommended for readers ages 8 to 12, and also work wonderfully as a read-aloud for mothers and daughters together.