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The Queen of Cool


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About the Author

Cecil Castellucci is the author of the young adult novel Boy Proof. She is also a writer, filmmaker, actress, and singer-songwriter, and engages in many, many other creative pursuits.


Gr 8 Up-Libby is cool to the max. However, she's bored with having all new clothes, her own car, and the freedom to go wherever she wants. She begins to question all of her self-indulgent and shallow friends, the drinking parties (with the parents' permission) and smoking pot, and the free sex that goes on without any love or commitment. When she signs up to become an intern at the Los Angeles Zoo, she meets some of the "uncool" kids and sees their strengths and begins to change. While some of this seems contrived and Libby's transformation is a bit facile, the book follows several recent movies that teens are watching. Cool will draw even reluctant readers, and the satisfying ending wraps up all the loose ends. Castellucci clearly knows what goes on in the lives of many teens. This novel should be as popular as her Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005).-Gail E. Wellman, East Middle School, Binghamton, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Ms. Lew, an aspiring actress who can hardly fake being interested in teaching us, places her hands on the back of her chair and sighs heavily.

I bet we are the closest thing she ever comes to having an audience.
She turns and writes the words Endangered Species on the board in dry erase marker. She's picked the color red. I can tell this is going to be a dramatic class. "The world is in ecological crisis. Who can guess some of the causes for endangerment?" she asks. A handful of kids in the front of the room raise their hands. "Tina," Ms. Lew says as she calls on Tiny. "Causes could include habitat loss, or the introduction of a new exotic species into the environment." Showoff. I wonder if Tiny has to sit in the front of the room because she can't see over anybody's head if she sits anywhere else. I wonder if that's why she always raises her hand. I wonder if the classroom looks different from the front of the room. I bet it's harder to not pay attention. "Good, Tina." Ms. Lew says. "Anyone else? Libby? You have a look of deep thought on your face. Do you have anything to add?" "Me?" I ask. I hate being singled out in class. "No thoughts at all?" "None I care to share," I say. People laugh. Ms. Lew is not happy. "How about overexploitation?" Sid calls out. I turn to look at him as he acts the hero, thinking he's saved my ass. He hasn't. I could've come up with an acceptable answer. If I really wanted to. "Good. How about some examples?" Ms. Lew says. "Well, like people who think tiger bones will make them virile," Sid says. People laugh. Louder. I notice that Sid is not laughing. The word virile doesn't make him crack a smile. "Excellent," Ms. Lew says, her mood brightening a bit. She probably feels good about her performance today. She starts writing down a million notes on the board. Pulling down maps. Handing out info sheets. She is excited. But me, I am ready for a nap. I open my loose-leaf notebook, propping it up in front of me. Then I put my head down on the desk. It smells like pencil and hand. _______ THE QUEEN OF COOL by Cecil Castellucci. Copyright (c) 2006 by Cecil Castellucci. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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