Campbell, Marcy

Rule of Threes

(2) 4-6 Maggie has high hopes for sixth grade, especially when the principal announces a decorating contest as part of the school's spirit week. As an avid interior designer who has learned all the rules of decoration--and persuaded her two best friends Olive and Rachel to follow her lead in their tween-run design company--Maggie is sure she will win. But Rachel, who now demands to be called Ra-kell, is spending more time with the cheerleaders than with Maggie. Maggie's beloved grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and a new member of the family arrives: Tony, her father's son from a previous relationship, who moves in when his mother goes to rehab. Maggie struggles with the changing relationships in her life and the challenge of not always being the one in charge, but a dramatic moment with Tony's mother gives her a chance to define a new role and new boundaries for herself. Campbell effectively highlights the small details that make the family feel authentic--for instance, Maggie notices her parents always take the same good cop/bad cop approach when she's in trouble--and allows the titular rule (which identifies the elements of a good design) to shape the story without being an overwhelming metaphor. Issues of drug abuse are handled in an age-appropriate way, and the balance of high- and low-stakes problems in Maggie's world is well done.


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