This book was my first read for the 2012 Debut Authors Challenge.
For anyone who’s ever felt that boys were a different species….
Thirteen and wildly creative, Kara McAllister just had her best idea yet. She’s going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question for her science project: How can she get a boyfriend?
But Kara’s project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy’s bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara’s research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it…
I recently finished The Boy Project: Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister by Kami Kinard and have already added it to my To Buy List for my school Media Center. I know for a fact my students are going to love it. How do I know this? Well, I know my kids. I know they love drama, romance, journal style novels and stories about kids like themselves. Kami Kinard has hit the nail on the head with her debut novel.
Overall, The Boy Project is an entertaining and fun read. The story is written in a journal style, similar to The Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney or The Dork Diary series by Rachel Renee Russell. Kara has decided to study the act of getting a boyfriend for her science project, so the book is full of charts, graphs and doodles of her boy observation note cards. Instead of chapters the book is written according to the dates Kara wrote in her “Soul Observations” journal. All of these little illustrations are so cute and total fit in with what an intelligent and creative teen girl might actually doodle.
Speaking of the teen girl in question, Kara, is a very likeable and believable main character. I appreciate that Kinard created a smart main character who does not shy away from and attempt to hide her intelligence. Instead of doing these things Kara uses her strengths to her advantage—she mixes her strengths (intelligence) with her interests (relationships and boys). Throughout the book, Kara becomes more accepting of who she is and learns to embrace her creativity and talents.
I know my female students will really enjoy this book because it’s all about what is on any middle school girl’s mind—friendships and boyfriends! Honestly, at first I was slightly bothered by the way Kara thinks that everyone in 8th grade, but her, has already had a boyfriend. I was worried about the message this would send, but Kara’s obsession with getting a boyfriend eventually lessens as she starts to realize that having a boyfriend may not actually be the best thing ever. I also know for a fact that boys were pretty much what I was focused on…in addition to school and my grades of course! I was also a major bookworm as a teenager (surprise! haha) and so is Kara, which adds to my love for her! I really liked the way Kinard mentions some popular and well-loved teen fiction throughout the novel, I kept thinking, “Oh, I’ve read that one too!”.
The Boy Project is a great read for middle school aged girls and up (I’d even say some mature 5th graders too). My only question and regret is why the heck didn’t I think of this for a science project when I was in middle school?!
Author: Kami Kinard
Publisher: Scholastic Press, January 1, 2012
Format: Advanced Reader Copy
Series: Stand alone debut
YA/MG: Middle Grades