Deep Down Popular
by Phebe Stone
(YP FIC STONE)
Jessie Lou is part tom-boy and part wild child, but the one thing she is not is popular. Conrad Parker is popular though. He's the most popular kid at their school and a soccer star at their small school, that is until his leg is injured and he has to start wearing a brace. Suddenly Conrad is unpopular, but Jessie Lou, who has always liked Conrad, doesn't care. She still likes him anyway. Then their teacher asks Jessie Lou to help Conrad take his things home from school. Gradually they, along with Quentin--a fourth grader, become friends as they try to solve a local mystery. When Conrad is selected for a special operation that could heal his leg, Jessie Lou is afraid that she will lose her new friend.
This simple story of friendship and crushes is told in an almost lyrical fashion. The small town, country setting is beautifully captured throughout, as are the several outlandish characters, such as Jessie Lou's mischievious grandfather and the rascally Quentin. Stone does an exceptional job of capturing the attitudes and typical behaviors of sixth graders.