July 13, 2010

Review: Mackenzie Blue Series by Tina Wells

Titles: Mackenzie Blue, The Secret Crush and Friends Forever
Author: Tina Wells
Publisher: Harper

My Review
I'm going to jump right into the review since I want to review the series as a whole.  This is a super cute series completely perfect for the lower tween set! Mackenzie (or Zee as her friends call her) is facing all the things girls this age face.  What to do when your best friend moves (Mackenzie Blue)? How to handle a crush (Secret Crush)? What if your friends don't get along (Friends Forever)? How to handle all this without making everyone hate you?  So many young girls face all these issues, and I think Mackenzie is a great role model for how to deal with them all.  She's sweat, confused, nice, worried, uncertain, motivated - everything a tween reader would be feeling.  I really appriciated how well they stuck to what were realistic problems - it made the stories much more relatable.  And watching Zee work through them will help girls going through similar issues.  I also liked that not all the problems were completely solved in the end. That is very unrealistic, and the reader would know that. This is really clear in Zee's crush on Landon. Many girls could relate to her confusion over the whole situation.

I liked that - even though each book teaches a lesson - they didn't become overly preachy.  When Zee has her "light bulb moment" the story could've really clobbered the reader over the head with what should be learned.  It didn't.  Yes the lesson is clear but it doesn't come across as annoying or know-it-all.  This is something that middle grade books really walk a careful line on.  They need to teach a lesson, but they can't turn the reader off by talking down to them.  This book handles that line well. To go along with that it was very realistic that Zee didn't do the right thing all the time.  A few times I cringed at her plan for how to fix things, but I knew she had to try to wrong way in order to truly get the right way.  Again - very realistic.

One small issue I had as an adult was that as much as I liked Zee she did get a bit perky at times.  I don't think young readers will have an issue with this, but as an adult reader it did get to me now and again.  Being around this age group though - I have seen girls just like her, so she is realistic to a degree. Also a few of the situations were unrealistic.  As a teacher I knew many of the events that happened on the field trip in Friends Forver? would not have really happened.  But they were things that allowed the story to progress, and more importantly things this age reader would want to happen.  They'll have no problems with the events. 

I also need to comment on the covers.  I have an 11 year old daughter.  She looked at the covers and immediately said they looked "babyish".  I'm thinking that since these books are for ages 8-12, that's not a good sign.  I think the covers are cute and perfect for girls in 4th or 5th grade, but they might not be best for the older end of it's audience.

Final thought: Super cute series with a fun main character figuring out how to be in middle school. As a mom I would have no issues giving these to my young daughter.
Best stick-with-you image: It isn't an image but a saying.  Zee always says "Oh Mylanta".  The first time I read it I rolled my eyes but guess what I found myself saying (and still saying!)
Best reader for the series: 3-5th grade girls who maybe don't have an older sister for a role model
Best for ages: 8-11

From Goodreads
Mackenzie Blue
Meet Mackenzie Blue, aka Zee

She has it all—smarts, talent, humor, and style. . . .
Is it enough to survive middle school?

Countdown to a 7th Grade Meltdown
1. Your BFF moves away.
2. Someone steals your diary and reveals your deepest secrets—to the entire class.
3. You have one chance to become a rock star and one chance to totally blow it. Guess what!? All three happened to me! School's a disaster already. Don't get me wrong—I love Brookdale Academy and I have a fabulous crew of friends. (At least, I think I do.) But, if I'm going to survive, I need all the help I can get!

Secret Crush
Mackenzie Blue has a crush!
But how can she get Landon—the cutest boy in school—to notice her? The class's new rock-and-roll musical is her chance.

Reasons why our musical is going to be amazing:

I could be the star! Landon could be my co-star . . . which means we'll hang out together. Working on the sets, props, music, script, and costumes will be tons of fun.
There's so much to do, I'd better get started!

Between her crush, the musical, and her friends—not to mention school work—Zee is torn in a thousand different directions. With all the real-life drama going on, will she lose sight of what's really important?

Friends Forver?
Mackenzie Blue is hitting the trails!

It's time for Brookdale Academy's camping field trip, but Zee has much more to deal with than a lesson about nature. . . .

1. My BFF, Ally, is visiting all the way from Paris! Ooh la la!
2. My friends and I are so going to win the environmental scavenger hunt!
1. We have to stay in teeny-tiny log cabins. How will we all fit?
2. The legendary (and terrifying) Mountain Man . . .


  1. I first thought that the covers looked a little young, but the Candy Apple books are wildly popular in my library, and these do sound perfect for 6th grade girls. And speaking of design, I LOVE your felt owls!

  2. I thought they were so cute too. The covers are cute and maybe too young, but they go with illustrations inside which are fun. Great review.