Review of The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman

The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman
by Mari Lowe
Intermediate, Middle School    Levine Querido    176 pp.
11/23    9781646142644    $18.99

Sixth grader Shaindy feels invisible at school, so when popular Gayil invites her to sneak into the building together and help with pranks against their classmates, she can’t resist the allure of the shared mission. Before she knows it, Shaindy has helped Gayil slime someone’s hairbrush, switch the contents of lockers, and dangerously slick a floor…and then it all blows up in her face in ways that change her perspective about her peers and make for an intense Yom Kippur. The fictional Fairview setting is described as “one of the most Jewish towns in the whole United States,” with schools and other infrastructure built around Orthodox observance. Copious Jewish detail (sometimes explained, sometimes left for readers who are unfamiliar with it to figure out from context) is naturally integrated and inextricable from the characters’ relationships. In particular, Lowe (Aviva vs. the Dybbuk, rev. 1/22) explores universal themes of atonement through the specific lens of Yom Kippur in this introspective novel full of perceptive emotional observations.

From the November/December 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in writing for children from Simmons University. She has served on the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award and Sydney Taylor Book Award committees.

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