Pub. Date: August 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Format: Paperback, 315pp
Age Range: 9 to 12
Series: Mother-Daughter Book Club #2
Synopsis from BN.com:
The mother-daughter book club is back!
This year the mothers have a big surprise in store for Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan: They've invited snooty Becca Chadwick and her mother to join the book club!
But there are bigger problems when Jess finds out that her family may have to give up Half Moon Farm. In a year filled with skating parties, a disastrous mother-daughter camping trip, and a high-stakes fashion show, the girls realize that it's only through working together — Becca included — that they can save Half Moon Farm.
Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick captures the magic of friendship and the scrapes along the way in this sequel to The Mother-Daughter Book Club, which will enchant daughters and mothers alike.
If you like reading the book club's featured selections, I would recommend doing so before reading a Mother-Daughter Book Club novel. I was surprised to find out that Much Ado About Nothing has its book clubbers discuss not only Anne of Green Gables, but Anne of Avonlea, too. There is even a quote pulled from the third Anne book, Anne of the Island. The connections between the story and the book club selections were perhaps not as frequent or as strong this time around, but the girls' love for Anne Shirley and her world is apparent.
I enjoyed Much Ado About Anne, despite a slow start. This installment keeps the four-part organizational framework of the original, and my enjoyment of the first section was hampered by three things. First, I was surprised that the mothers would decide to allow the bossy, know-it-all Calliope Chadwick and her snooty daughter Becca into the club. I was willing to believe, though, that the mothers' graciousness was meant as an example to their daughters. Second, I was a little disappointed that the girls appeared to have taken a step backward in development. The first book showed the girls growing closer to each other and their parents. Here, they begin a little more mean-spirited than I remembered from book one. And why does Cassidy seem more secretive (secrets abound and the plot sometimes hinges on them) and distant from her mother? It seems the author has the girls regress in order to get them into an Anne Shirley-esque scrape or two before learning more life lessons. Finally, the early focus on Clementine's TV show delays our opportunity to meaningfully explore the girls' thoughts and feelings.
I still heartily enjoyed my reading of the novel. In some ways, the storytelling has improved. While book one tended to tie things up too quickly and neatly, Much Ado About Anne allows events to be messier and more mixed-up. And in some cases, situations, though improved, are not fully resolved. This is more true to life.
Once more, the series uses humor nicely to offset the occasional weight of lessons learned and wisdom imparted. Mrs. Wong is again at her ridiculous best, with her penchant for causes and her over-enthusiasm for all things organic and vegan. And Mrs. Chadwick needs no help or disparagement from the others (it's nice to see the parents model respect for their kids) -- she makes a perfect fool of herself.
As the novel progressed, I found that the strengths of the first book remained. I'm still fond of the whole Hawthorne clan and the closeness they share. Emma and Phoebe Hawthorne have a believable bond. It's heartwarming to see such a healthy mother-daughter dynamic portrayed amid a genre in which parents are often absent. Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan show themselves to be still, at heart, the same good girls they were in the first book, so I was able to forgive their apparent lapses and backslides. They are, after all, growing girls, and kids their age sometimes need to learn the same lesson more than once before it sticks. In the end, the girls learn the the value of trust, teamwork, and loyalty, and families and friendships are both strengthened and broadened. And though our heroine's future is uncertain, like Anne, Cassidy faithfully steps forward trusting that even if she cannot see what lies around the bend, her future's filled with hope.