My 9-year-old daughter read this novel while we were camping and she was so engrossed that I had to see what had won out over the beach. Pansy’s best friend, Anna, has suffered brain damage as a result of spinal meningitis contracted while at a Girl Scout camp that Pansy had promised to attend, but backed out of at the last minute. Pansy often breaks promises or fails to do what she wishes she could because of fear of failure–or gross bugs. Pansy feels terribly guilty for leaving Anna alone at the camp, which leads her to pledge to become extraordinary during fifth grade, her first without Anna at her side. She joins Girl Scouts. She learns to ice skate. She hits the top of the Independent Reader list. She makes jokes in front of class to explain unusual behavior rather than blushing and staying silent. Along the way she makes new friends and struggles to understand her old friend, Anna’s twin, Andy.
extraordinary is a wonderfully written, fast-paced novel about love and friendship and facing our fears. Franklin takes on huge themes, but never comes across as preachy. Pansy is adorable and, apparently, identifiable for young readers. It was a heartwarming read for a mom on a summer morning, as well.