What’s Bugging Bailey Blecker?

A Middle-Grade Novel by Gail Donovan

ISBN: 978-0525422860
Publisher: Dutton
Binding, Price: Hardcover, $16.99
Ages: 7 – 12

For fifth-grader Bailey Blecker, a classwide case of head lice is the worst thing that could happen. She’s been growing her hair to donate, and she’s determined (or stubborn, as her mom calls it) not to cut it until it’s long and lice free enough to be useful. But lice are only the beginning of Bailey’s troubles, and in this classroom comedy, the solution is full of twists and tangles.

With pitch-perfect dialogue, the right amount of humor and sympathy, lots of action, and an unfortunately familiar problem, this middle-grade comedy will leave kids itching for more.

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Awards & Accolades:

“Donovan crafts a solidly realistic school story with lots of humor. The island setting and the background story of a Revolutionary War reenactment add interest, and both child and adult characters (such as the super-positive teacher Mr. McGovern) ring true. The character of Bailey may be a first in children’s fiction: she is a child born to a single mother through medical means (“a doctor helped her have a baby”), though it is casually mentioned and not a focus. Lice and its various treatments (like coating the head in mayonnaise or, in Bailey’s case, tartar sauce) is a great hook. Andrew Clements fans will enjoy this school story, too.” —Horn Book

“Donovan creates a realistic, engaging middle-grade heroine in fifth-grader Bailey Blecker. . . Bailey is emotionally authentic, with an individualistic voice and a strong streak of stubbornness, of which she is particularly proud. . . The easy-to-follow story line, slightly out-of-ordinary setting, and credible secondary characters add up to a well-constructed novel especially for the younger end of the targeted audience.” —Publishers Weekly

“It’s bad enough that Bailey’s transferring from her tiny Maine island school to the larger mainland school at the start of fifth grade, but when she comes down with a severe case of head lice, things start to get really, well, lousy. . . As the book progresses, Bailey learns a thing or two about friendship, commitment, and the acceptance of change, and these life lessons come together remarkably well in this lighthearted middle-grades novel. Those able to get past the impulse to scratch their heads throughout the lice-rich plot will find high-spirited Bailey an affable protagonist.” —Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books

“Although most stories involving head lice focus on preschool and primary-grade children, this chapter book looks at older students, who are just as repulsed by “cooties” and even more concerned about their appearance. Yet the head-lice theme is actually secondary to the story of a child struggling for balance as she handles a number of unsettling changes in her life. A well-paced and very readable story.” —Booklist

“Donovan carefully scripts a heartfelt story of learning to accept one’s circumstances no matter what they are. . . The author also handles the lice breakout realistically and carefully crafts the emotions involved. In a story with no easy solutions, Bailey matures and realizes that change is not always a bad thing.” —School Library Journal

“Purposeful in a lighthearted way but guaranteed to make your head—scalp and brain—itch!” —Kirkus Reviews

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