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Popular
Cover of Popular
Popular
Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek
New York Times Bestseller

A breakout teen author explores the true meaning of popularity and how to survive middle school in this hysterically funny, touchingly honest contemporary memoir.

"I was inspired by [Maya's] journey and made a point of saving a copy of 'Popular' for my sister, who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could have saved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective." —Maude Apatow, New York Times Book Review

Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?
Maya Van Wagenen is about to find out.


Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at "pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here," Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.

The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises. Told with humor and grace, Maya's journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence, along with a better understanding of what it means to be popular.


New York Times Bestseller

A breakout teen author explores the true meaning of popularity and how to survive middle school in this hysterically funny, touchingly honest contemporary memoir.

"I was inspired by [Maya's] journey and made a point of saving a copy of 'Popular' for my sister, who starts middle school this fall. Maybe if I had read it when I was her age, it could have saved me from a world of hurt, or at least put that world in perspective." —Maude Apatow, New York Times Book Review

Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help a shy girl become popular?
Maya Van Wagenen is about to find out.


Stuck near the bottom of the social ladder at "pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here," Maya has never been popular. But before starting eighth grade, she decides to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell.

The real-life results are hilarious, painful, and filled with unexpected surprises. Told with humor and grace, Maya's journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence, along with a better understanding of what it means to be popular.


Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.0
  • Lexile:
    730
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3 - 4


Excerpts-
  • From the book And so, I embark on my grand experiment. Every month of this school year I will follow Betty Cornell's advice on the topics in her book: dieting, hair, makeup, posture, and attitude, among others – no matter how embarrassing or difficult.

    I definitely have my work cut out for me. That is if I'm not already beyond help. I am 5'2" with light brown skin that breaks out in acne on a regular basis. I am gawky, slouchy, and just a little bit lumpy. I have non-existent hips and a chest almost as flat as the cover of Betty Cornell's book. I wear glasses and braces. I do all my clothes shopping at Walmart and second-hand stores. I spend more time on algebra than I do on my hair.

    Maybe things will change. Can popularity advice from more than half a century ago still be relevant? I'll find out. Crazier things have happened, right? Men have walked on the moon and society has found a way to grow square watermelons.

    Betty Cornell has become my new soul mate, and I am married to her every word. For better or worse.
Reviews-
  • DOGO Books bananadream240 - I found this book on a trip to Michigan in a cozy little bookstore, and this ended out to be a hysterically wonderful surprise! I still have my copy, and it's taught me much importance about staying true to myself. Popular isn't a theme, it's a category, but,... not unless you're happy with being an outsider.
  • Kirkus

    April 15, 2014
    An interesting and earnest memoir of a social experiment conducted by a contemporary eighth-grader who follows the advice in a popularity guide written for 1950s-era teens and blogged the experience for one school year. Van Wagenen is the oldest child in her loving, quirky family. A talented writer, she's funny, thoughtful and self-effacing. She is also, as she describes it, part of the "Social Outcast group, the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be there." Over the year, she discovers a great deal, most notably that despite its sounding a bit pat, popularity is "about who you are, and how you treat others." Teens will readily identify with her candid descriptions of social dynamics at her middle school. Many of the scenarios that arise from her adherence to the suggestions in Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide are effectively played to comic effect, such as wearing a girdle or pearls and white gloves. Vignettes about her life, including her grief over the death of a beloved teacher, her horror at hearing the news of a boy killed at a nearby school after he brings in a pellet gun and her excitement over speaking to Betty Cornell by telephone, provide balance. A fascinating and unusual slice-of-life work whose humor will best be appreciated by younger teens. (Memoir. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2014

    Gr 7 Up-The bright and perceptive Van Wagenen wanted to boost her popularity in middle school. As a self-defined "Social Outcast, the lowest level of people at school who weren't paid to be there," the eighth-grader had quite a climb ahead of her. Her modus operandi was intriguing: she used a 1950s teen etiquette book that her father found at a thrift store as a guide to climb the social ladder. The clash of eras and cultures is funny-the author wears a girdle, hat, and pearls to class; learns how to apply makeup; improves her posture and poise; and tries a diet. But the best lessons she learns from Fifties teen model Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide are about how to talk to and understand the people around her. Bravely visiting all the various cliques in the lunchroom and making conversation with her secret Sunday school crush, she becomes even more sensitive and aware-and yes, more popular. Van Wagenen's tone is personable and polished. Even though she has many typical tween obsessions and concerns, her writing is surprisingly mature. While overall this light memoir provides plenty of fun, it has a grittier backdrop than the cover and description might suggest. Van Wagenen's school, in Brownsville, TX, near the Mexican border, commonly experiences lockdown drills and warnings against gangs, and she casually mentions that smoke from a drug war in Matamoros, Mexico, is visible from her house. The part-Hispanic teen also occasionally sprinkles in Spanish words. With a DreamWorks movie option in the works, this entertaining title should be in demand.-Liz French, Library Journal

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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